I found out something I wasn't really aware of the other day, and was just waiting for the right moment to make it a post. On occasion I get e-mail from a group called the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that bills itself as "an independent research institute which examines the impact of immigration on the United States." They recently put out a report on the shadier side of illegal immigration - while most people think of illegal immigrants as people who have made their way through the southwest desert across a border without enough of a fence, this paper makes a different claim:
While presidential candidates promise to secure the border, the other major source of illegal immigration is largely ignored – lax visa policies. Visa overstays account for between one-quarter to one-half of the illegal-alien population, and fencing, unmanned aerial vehicles, National Guard patrols, etc., are irrelevant to controlling this part of the immigration problem.
Betcha didn't think of that! I know I didn't think there were that many running around who overstayed their visas, but, as author David Seminara writes, a number of the 9/11 hijackers fit into that category:
It’s also worth recalling that the 9/11 Commission noted that the six-month authorized stay given to tourists allowed the hijackers “sufficient time to make preparations” for the attacks.
The former State Department official gives a number of reasons for the problem, but probably the most telling among them are:
- The crushing volume of applications. Most visa-processing posts are woefully understaffed, resulting in very brief interviews. Managers value speed over clarity of decision making, so many applications that deserve closer scrutiny instead end up being approved.
- The Department of Homeland Security has not implemented meaningful exit controls or shared entry/exit data with consular officials overseas, leaving them without adequate information on visa renewal applicants. (And they've been at this how long and have had how many billions thrown at them?)
- The simple reality that it is far easier to say “yes” to applicants than to dash their hopes by telling them that they don’t qualify to come to America.
Obviously if you think your only hope is to somehow make it to America from some poverty-stricken backwater, your human story is going to be pretty compelling. After all, what's one more visa request granted? It's one more person we taxpayers have to account for if they indeed overstay their visa and begin to use the services we all provide, that's what.
Now I'll get to the item that ties in nicely and will make this a more well-rounded post. I received an e-mail with news from Delegate Ron George on a bill for which I sent in written testimony, House Bill 288. The measure was intended to require proof of citizenship or legal immigrant status to acquire a Maryland drivers' license. Unfortunately:
The House Judiciary Committee voted 12-9 to defeat HB 288. It is disappointing, but not unexpected. All the Republicans as well as Committee Delegates Kevin Kelly, Gerron Levi and Todd Schuler were with us and voted against Chairman Vallario's unfavorable position. Please thank them if you get a chance. Del. Frank Conaway, a bill co-sponsor, reversed positions and voted against the bill!
Something's not right with either Delegate George's description or the count since six Republicans serve on the Committee (Delegates Dwyer, Frank, McComas, McConkey, Shank, and Smigiel.) Regardless, I think I'm safe in saying that the 12 Democrats who voted to kill this measure would be:
- Delegate Curt Anderson (District 43 - Baltimore City)
- Delegate Ben Barnes (District 21 - PG/AA County)
- Delegate Jill P. Carter (District 41 - Baltimore City)
- Delegate Kathleen M. Dumais (District 15 - Montgomery County)
- Delegate Benjamin F. Kramer (District 19 - Montgomery County)
- Delegate Susan C. Lee (District 16 - Montgomery County)
- Delegate Victor R. Ramirez (District 47 - PG County)
- Delegate Samuel I. Rosenberg (Vice Chair - District 41 - Baltimore City)
- Delegate Luiz R.S. Simmons (District 17 - Montgomery County)
- Delegate Kriselda Valderrama (District 26 - PG County)
- Delegate Joseph F. Vallario, Jr. (Chair - District 27A - Calvert/PG County)
- Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher (District 18 - Montgomery County)
Crossposted on monoblogue.