President Donald Trump declared this week that the number of immigrants who arrive legally in the United States and then illegally remain in the country after their visas expire was “unacceptably high.” On the basis of a Homeland Security report, Trump ordered federal agencies to recommend action against countries that have business and tourism travelers who overstay their visas at a rate higher than 10 percent. Such action could include suspending or limiting visas for those countries.
As The Washington Post reported, citing Homeland Security data, 20 countries have visa overstay rates higher than 10 percent. Except for Syria and Nigeria, these countries each accounted for fewer than 1,000 visitors who overstayed their visas.
Djibouti, for example, has the highest visa overstay rate at 45 percent — but that translates to just 180 of the 403 people who traveled from the small nation on the Horn of Africa to the United States in 2018.
In contrast, Mexico and Canada have rates lower than 10 percent but they send a much higher number of travelers to the United States. The Homeland Security report says Mexico had more than 43,000 visa overstays — a rate of 1.5 percent — while Canada had 88,000 overstays, at a rate of less than 1 percent.
About 667,000 people overstayed their visas last year. Some analysts told The Washington Post that targeting countries with high rates of overstays, rather than targeting countries with the highest numbers of overstays, would have little effect on the total number of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Using the percentage of overstays as a measure also disproportionately targets African nations while avoiding political conflicts with more powerful countries, such as China and India.
Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection