The White House issued an April 22 presidential memorandum instructing the Department of Homeland Security and the secretary of state to find solutions to the problem of visa overstays.
“Nonimmigrant visa (visa) overstay rates are unacceptably high for nationals of certain countries. Aliens must abide by the terms and conditions of their visas for our immigration system to function as intended. Although the United States benefits from legitimate nonimmigrant entry, individuals who abuse the visa process and decline to abide by the terms and conditions of their visas, including their visa departure dates, undermine the integrity of our immigration system and harm the national interest,” reads the memo.
A fact sheet released by the White House to explain the memo says that the aforementioned departments will look for ways to stop illegal overstays from countries with overstay rates over 10 percent.
The memo follows a study from the Center for Migration Studies that shows those that come to the United States and overstay the time allotted in their visas are a higher source of people in the country illegally than those that cross the border illegally.
The study says that the level of illegal aliens in the country continues to fall, but that visa overstays have exceeded illegal border crossings for seven straight years as the source of people in the country illegally, and that for the past 10 years, overstaying temporary visas has been the primary way illegals enter the country.
The White House is giving the secretaries of state and Homeland Security 120 days to find solutions.
Homeland Security is also looking into ways to curb overstays from countries with visa waiver agreements with the United States. Homeland Security has 180 days to give the president a summary of what is being done to stop visa waiver overstays.
The Center for Migration Studies report says that although the illegal population coming from Mexico declined significantly in the United States, Mexico is still the top country of people overstaying temporary visas. In 2017, for the first time, Mexico accounted for less than half of the total number of illegal aliens in the United States.
In contrast, the number of people that left Venezuela to stay in the United States illegally rose from 60,000 to 145,000 in just four years.
The White House states that there are over 415,000 individuals suspected of still being in the country after overstaying nonimmigrant visas in fiscal year 2018. Of those, 300,000 were not from visa waiver countries.
The memo says that the secretaries of state and Homeland Security should start imposing admission bonds as a way to get people to leave the United States on time. Presumably, this would play out by imposing a fee at a port of entry, which is given back to the traveler upon a timely exit from the country.
The Trump administration has already taken steps to curb visa overstays. For people entering the country on a visa waiver program, Customs and Border Protection has started notifying them before their admission period ends. Countries with overstays over 2 percent need to implement awareness campaigns that warn against not leaving, following Homeland Security requirements, according to the fact sheet.
There are countries with rates of overstay that go well beyond 10 percent, and some as high as 40 percent. The White House said this puts too much strain on law enforcement and immigration officials who are needed to deal with the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.