Visa Scofflaws – A Problem Augmented by the Obama Administration
A large share of the illegal immigrant population is due toforeigners who enter legally with visas and then do not leave. The Trumpadministration has begun to focus on this problem in addition to its focus onborder control,
News reports indicate that the administration is consideringsanctions against countries whose citizens are major contributors to theoverstay problem. However, this misallocates responsibility for the problem.Those really responsible are those who issue visas to persons who are likely tostay illegally (State Department visa officers) and those who have theresponsibility for enforcement of the immigration law in the interior of thecountry (Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE). Of course, the growingproblem of local jurisdictions that condone, aid, and abet illegal immigrationalso exacerbates this problem.
A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report released April 25 identifies the size of the visa scofflaw problem and the countries from which the most violators come. It should be no surprise that Brazilians and Indians are among the top source countries. President Obama announced in January 2012 “…[visa issuance] reforms are geared especially at helping visitors from Brazil and China get to the U.S. faster.” 
As a result of the Obama initiative, two new consulates wereopened in Brazil, one wasopened in China,and additional visa issuing staff were sent to the two countries to speed visaissuance. As a result, over the next two years, visa issuance to Chineseincreased by 40 percent and visa issuance to Brazilians increased by 17percent.
In the new data released by DHS, after neighbors Canada andMexico, Brazil had the greatest number of visitors for tourism or business whodid not depart when required (36,289 persons) and China had the highest numberof student visa abusers (12,924) and sixth highest number of business andtourist visa abusers (18,314).
The experience with presidential meddling in visa policysuggests that a tightening of visa issuance policy managed by the Department ofState offers a more effective means of reducing visa abuse than sanctioningforeign governments (although the latter is certainly warranted). It is alsoclear that much greater interior enforcement against visa scofflaws is needed,but that can succeed to the greatest extent if there it is accompanied bycooperative policies by state and local jurisdictions.