MATT GAETZ: Trump’s plan for solving illegal immigration crisis doesn’t stop at the border
Protecting our borders and national sovereignty has proven to be among the most complex and dire issues facing our country — but President Trump has a comprehensive plan to accomplish that important task.
The massive surge in illegal immigration at the border, which has overwhelmed our immigration enforcement professionals, is rightly capturing the nation’s attention, but beefing up the Border Patrol and building new border walls is just the beginning of his multifaceted and complex approach to fixing our broken immigration system.
On Monday, President Trump announced that his administration will be cracking down on the widespread abuse of U.S. visas. This long-neglected issue is a major source of illegal immigration, drains our resources, makes a mockery of the rule of law, and poses a significant threat to America’s national security.
“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,” President Trump wrote in an official memorandum.
“The Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall immediately begin taking all appropriate actions...to reduce overstay rates for all classes of (non-immigrant) visas,” he added, instructing both officials to submit plans for new policies to strengthen enforcement and deterrence over the next several months.
The decision to go after visa violators is significant — contrary to a popular Democrat myth, President Trump clearly understands that while building a wall on the southern border is necessary, solving the illegal immigration crisis requires many complementary strategies.
Securing the border with a physical barrier addresses one type of illegal immigration, but there are other prominent deficiencies in our immigration laws, allowing migrants to circumvent the legal immigration process. Dubious ‘asylum’ claims dominate most of the headlines, but visa overstays are perhaps an even bigger problem.
Here in Florida, we’re home to one of the biggest American communities of Venezuelan national expatriates, who have the highest overstay rate among non-immigrants admitted to the U.S. for business or tourism.
What we know about the issue nationally is even more of a cause for alarm. In 2016, more than 600,000 people who entered the country on a visa failed to leave the U.S. before their travel documents expired. That same year, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) apprehended just over 400,000 migrants attempting to cross the border illegally.
Remarkably, travelers who have overstayed their visas make up an estimated 40 percent of the entire illegal immigrant population in America.
Now consider that, if not for visa overstays, at least five of the 9/11 hijackers would not have been in the country to commit their despicable act of war against America. Visa overstay abuse is a threat to our national security.
Donald Trump has been promising to address the visa problem since before he was elected, arguing that it must be part of a comprehensive strategy to reform our immigration system.
“I am going to build a great border wall, institute nationwide e-verify, stop illegal immigrants from accessing welfare and entitlements, and develop an exit-entry tracking system to ensure those who overstay their visas are quickly removed,” he said in August 2016.
“If we don’t enforce visa expiration dates, then we have an open border — it’s as simple as that,” he added.
Democrats, conversely, have neglected to offer real solutions of their own to the overstay problem, instead using it to obfuscate their argument against building the border wall.
Now that construction of the wall is underway, President Trump is wasting no time tackling other critical flaws in our immigration system — and reducing visa overstays is an important place to start.