President Donald Trump is focusing attention on countries with high rates of visa overstays in the U.S. as he signed a memorandum proposing severe sanctions in an effort to combat illegal immigration.
The State and Homeland Security departments are being given 120 days to present solutions as the administration looks at suspending or limiting the number of immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. from countries that have higher rates of nationals who overstay their visa limits, The Daily Caller reported.
“Although the United States benefits from legitimate (non-immigrant) 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,” Trump wrote in his memo.
“The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall immediately begin taking all appropriate actions that are within the scope of their respective authorities to reduce overstay rates for all classes of (non-immigrant) visas,” he wrote.
The memo proposes some travel restrictions, including on those from the 20 countries with higher than 10 percent visa overstay rates, such as Chad, Yemen, Syria, and Angola among others. A new report from the Department of Homeland Security indicates that as of March 2019, short-term visitor visas were overstayed by over 415,000 individuals in 2018.
Biggest #Immigration problem we face is overstay of Visa. That is something that can be corrected with an EO… pic.twitter.com/qCnzwZJrgw
— Michelle (@MichelleHill387) April 22, 2019
“We have laws that need to be followed to keep Americans safe and to protect the integrity of a system where, right now, there are millions of people who are waiting in line to come to America to seek the American Dream,” Trump said in a statement.
The White House indicated in a statement that measures are an effort to “find effective ways to combat the rampant number of overstays,” which “is undermining the rule of law and straining resources that are needed to address the crisis at our southern border.”
The nonpartisan Center for Migration Studies noted that a higher number of illegal immigrants in the U.S. are from visa overstays versus those crossing the border illegally.
“What we’re doing here is shutting a backdoor for illegal immigration,” a Trump administration official told The Daily Caller. “This is part of the Trump Administration’s comprehensive approach to combating illegal immigration.”
“This issue is not only an issue of national security and public safety, but also one of economic security, as this form of illegal immigration imposes dramatic costs on American society because you have people promising to stay on a very short-term basis, but then never leaving and becoming dependent on our public welfare system paid for by U.S. taxpayers,” the senior official added.
The move comes after a recent shakeup at DHS with the exit of former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other department officials earlier this month as the administration looks to get tougher on illegal immigration. Last week, Attorney General William Barr ordered an end to the so-called catch-and-release policy by announcing that illegal immigrants seeking asylum are no longer eligible to be released on bond.
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