Overstaying Their Welcome

By Mark Krikorian on September 28, 2009

I'm all for border fencing and the like; it's an essential tool of national sovereignty.

But for too many politicians, and even ordinary folks, support for border security is a cop out, a substitute for thinking about the overall immigration problem, only part of which has anything to do with our border with Mexico.

One vital issue that is neglected because of this tunnel-vision on border fences is visa overstays. The Dallas jihadist shows how important this is; I suspected he was an overstayer, and the Dallas Morning News confirmed:

The father said that his sons Hosam and Hussein came to the United States in 2007 on student visas. Authorities said, however, Hosam Smadi was not currently enrolled in school.

And the intention to study here was likely phony from the beginning:

The brothers lived in a Santa Clara, Calif., apartment with an older relative until February 2008, when a small fire forced them to move. Smadi told his apartment manager, Joe Redzovic, that the family had come to America for a better life.

And when local cops checked on the Jordanian jihadist after an arrest earlier this month for not having a driver's license or insurance, they had no idea was an illegal alien:

Ellis County sheriff's spokesman Dennis Brearley said Friday that his department had no reason to hold Smadi. They didn't know he was in the country illegally because nothing showed up in his background. Smadi paid a $550 fine and was released.

So, are we getting serious about completing US-VISIT, the check-in/check-out system for foreign visitors? Of course not. This from a reader who works for a firm that worked on US-VISIT:

The outgoing part of USVISIT (Phase 2) – that would be the part that matched passports as people left, to make sure a) there was a record of them entering the US legally; b) the records showed that they had indeed left on or before the date stated on their entry papers; and c) that officials could compile lists of those who had NOT left on time so that they could be tracked – has never been funded. We go round and round with the consulting firm each year, wondering if the Congress would fund the outgoing part of USVISIT – to no avail. They’ve finally dropped technical support for Phase 1, as they see no hope for funding for Phase 2.

Yes, I and my company have a financial interest in seeing this through. But we gave steep discounts on the software so that it would get DONE. And then…nothing.