Congressman: Visa Overstays Not Reported to Homeland Security

WASHINGTON — Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) said the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. consulates do not communicate with each other about individuals who have overstayed their visas.

“A big problem in my district is visa overstays. I mean, it is rampant,” Marchant told PJM during an interview on Capitol Hill.

Marchant also told PJM people are staying in the U.S. on many different types of expired visas.

“They’re enrolling in college for one semester, paying the tuition and they’re gone,” he said. “So, we found out that there is actually no communication between Homeland Security and each of the consulates that issue the visas. We don’t know who is overstaying their visas.”

Marchant said the U.S. consulates that issue the visas to foreigners should be required to report visa data to DHS.

“Just a list. Here’s how many people we gave visas to, here’s how many came back, here’s the people that never came back,” he said, explaining the kind of information the consulates should provide.

“Now that presents a problem — now where are you going to go? Are you going to round them up? I don’t know but we should at least know who they are,” he added.

Marchant, a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said some people visit his district office with expired visas and ask his staff for help.

“They just boldly walk in the front door — demand and say, ‘my visa is expired, I need you to write a letter for hardship.’ Our staff is trying to say we are obligated by law to report you to the INS because you are here illegally and we are not going to help you. If you want to pursue this further and open a case we are going to have to report you to the INS,” Marchant said, referring to the Immigration and Naturalization Service that was split into three agencies under the Bush administration: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

“I’m all for legal immigration – most of the immigrants in my district are legal, but visa overstays are a huge problem,” he added.

According to Marchant, there is no communication between the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. consulates about visa overstays. Marchant said presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s administration could do a better job than the Obama administration tracking people who overstay their visas.

“Maybe come up with a report of who is here overstaying so Trump’s whole first year could be very proactive without ever talking about a wall,” he said.

Marchant said foreigners living in the U.S. with expired visas puts a strain on local governments, specifically public school districts across the country.

“I’m from a little suburban school district that just passed a $250 million bond issue for five new elementary schools, a new junior high and a new high school to accommodate who? Indian, Pakistani, Chinese visa overstays and related families,” he said.

Marchant also touched on the issue of illegal-immigrant minors getting apprehended at the border and being placed with a relative living in the U.S.

“Federal law requires that [Office of Refugee Resettlement] feed, shelter, and provide medical care for unaccompanied children until it is able to release them to safe settings with sponsors (usually family members), while they await immigration proceedings. These sponsors live in many states,” the Health and Human Services website says.

“I’ve been in the holding cells on the border and I’ve seen the 17-year-olds and it’s scary. They are not kids. A lot of them are seasoned criminals at 17,” Marchant said. “Some of them are seasoned criminals.”

In 2014, there was an influx of illegal-immigrant minors showing up at the U.S.-Mexico border. Many of the children were placed with a sponsor living in the U.S. and enrolled in public schools. The Associated Press has reported that the federal government leaves most of the migrant children with adults living in the U.S. illegally.

Some public school systems such as New York City have experienced difficulty teaching illegal immigrants the English language and faced funding challenges due to overcrowding.

According to the New York Post, the city’s “per-pupil spending in the 2012-2013 academic year averaged $20,749, which would bring the total for the migrant kids to $48.7 million.”