Illegal Border Crossings v. Visa Overstays

No one can get the image of the train carrying illegals out of their memory and with good reason. When anyone does a search on the internet to determine the actual and factual numbers of immigrants coming across the southern border by year, you will be disappointed, the charts and records are not there. Countless outlets and agencies report but with caveats and obscure labels. Still we are told the border is as secure as it has ever been.

Related reading: The Human Tragedy of Illegal Immigration: Greater Efforts Needed to Combat Smuggling and Violence

What is more chilling, are the reports that once again we are in a spike season of illegal entry due in part to threats of presidential candidates. Further, those already here are filing at an accelerated rate for citizenship for the exact same reason.

There is a clash however in the facts over which is worse, those coming across the border versus those coming in by air or other means possessing a vThe Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries* to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa, when they meet all requirements explained below. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel. If you prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for a visitor (B) visa.isa that has an expiration date. Take note that any international airport across the United States is a port of entry. Once a visa is issued by State Department contractors, it becomes the burden of the Department of Homeland Security to ensure compliance to dates. This is where the problem, yet another lays with fault.

One cannot overlook the Visa Waiver Program concocted by the U.S. State Department of which several in Congress are calling for a suspension.

Citizens or nationals of the following countries* are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP, unless citizens of one of these countries are also a national of Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan.

Andorra Hungary Norway
Australia Iceland Portugal
Austria Ireland San Marino
Belgium Italy Singapore
Brunei Japan Slovakia
Chile Latvia Slovenia
Czech Republic Liechtenstein South Korea
Denmark Lithuania Spain
Estonia Luxembourg Sweden
Finland Malta Switzerland
France Monaco Taiwan*
Germany Netherlands United Kingdom**
Greece New Zealand

There are an estimated 35 unique types of visa classifications under the management of the U.S. State Department.


Obama Admin Deported Less Than One Percent of Visa Overstays

Nearly half a million individuals overstayed visas in 2015, fewer than 2,500 deported

Kredo/FreeBeacon: The Obama administration deported less than one percent of the nearly half a million foreign nationals who illegally overstayed their visas in 2015, according to new statistics published by the Department of Homeland Security.

Of the 482,781 aliens who were recorded to have overstayed temporary U.S. visas in fiscal year 2015, just 2,456 were successfully deported from the United States during the same period, according to DHS’s figures, which amounts to a deportation rate of around 0.5 percent.

The sinking rate of deportations by the Obama administration is drawing criticism from Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are warning that the administration is ignoring illegal overstays and potentially opening the United States to terrorist threats.

The 482,781 figure accounts for aliens who entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visitor visa or through the Visa Waiver Program, which streamlines travel between the United States and certain other countries. The figure encompasses foreign nationals who were found to have remained in the United States after their visas expired or after the 90-day window allowed by the Visa Waiver Program.

The actual number of overstays could be higher. The latest figures published by DHS do not include overstays from other visa categories or overstays by individuals who entered the United States through land ports, such as those along the Mexican border.

Deportations by the Obama administration have decreased steadily since 2009, according to figures codified by the Senate’s Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest and provided to the Washington Free Beacon.

Since 2009, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has expelled 51,704 individuals who overstayed their visas. The total number of those expelled has decreased every fiscal year.

At least 12,538 illegal overstays were deported in fiscal 2009, while 11,259 were removed in 2010, 10,426 in 2011, 6,856 in 2012, 4,240 in 2013, 3,564 in 2014, and 2,456 in 2015, according to the committee.

The drop is being attributed by sources to an Obama administration policy directing DHS and ICE not to pursue visa overstays unless the offender has been convicted of major crimes or terrorism.

“The decision by the Obama administration not to enforce immigration laws by allowing those who have overstayed their visas to remain in the country has not gone unnoticed by the American people,” sources on the Senate subcommittee told the Free Beacon. “A Rasmussen Reports poll released earlier this year indicates that approximately 3 out of 4 Americans not only want the Obama administration to find these aliens who overstay their visas, but also to deport them.”

“The same poll indicates that 68 percent of Americans consider visa overstays a ‘serious national security risk,’ and 31 percent consider visa overstays a ‘very serious’ national security risk,” according to the sources.

Congress has long mandated the implementation of a biometric entry-exit system to track individuals who overstay their visas and ensure they leave the United States.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), chair of the Senate’s immigration subcommittee, recently proposed an amendment aimed at speeding up implementation of this system. Senate Democrats blocked the amendment.


Immigration and Customs Enforcement has received substantially more taxpayer money in recent years despite the plummeting rate of deportations. At least 43 percent fewer aliens were removed from the United States from 2012 to 2015, according to DHS statistics.

EU New Industry: Billions in Immigrant Smuggling

EUROPOL: ‘The fasted growing criminal market in Europe’ netted $6.6 billion in 2015

BusinessInsider: People-smuggling gangs netted up to 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) last year, most of it from the traffic of migrants into Europe, the European Union’s police agency Europol said in a report issued on Monday.

Labeling people-smuggling as the “fastest growing criminal market in Europe”, the report said: “This turnover (of 6 billion euros) is set to double or triple if the scale of the current migration crisis persists in the upcoming year.”

Migrants walk towards a makeshift camp close to the Austrian border town of Spielfeld in the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, February 16, 2016.

Europol and police forces in countries in Europe and beyond have identified more than 12,000 suspects active in gangs involved in smuggling in migrants since 2015.

Gangs, whose members come from countries including Bulgaria, Egypt, Hungary, Iraq and Kosovo, are engaged in a huge range of criminal activities including document forgery and official bribery, the report said.

So-called “hotspots” where gang activities is concentrated include cities along the Balkan route from the Middle East, such as Istanbul, Izmir, Athens and Budapest, as well as major continental hubs like Berlin, Calais, Zeebrugge and Frankfurt.

But Europol said there was little evidence that “terrorist suspects” were making use of migrant smuggling networks to enter the continent on a significant scale.

“Far less than 0.01 percent of terrorist suspects have had migrant links,” said Europol director Rob Wainwright at a news conference.

About one million migrants reached Europe last year, most of them fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, the agency said in a report issued as it set up a new center to coordinate the Europe-wide fight against the smugglers.

The European Migrant Smuggling Centre, which will be based at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, will help police forces in and outside Europe share intelligence and will help with rapid deployment of emergency police forces as new migrant routes emerge.

Read the full report here. migrant_smuggling__europol_report_2016

Irregular migrants travelling to the EU primarily originate from Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq as well as from Senegal, Somalia, Niger, Morocco and other African countries. In addition to these nationalities, there is also a continuous flow of irregular migrants from Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, China, and Vietnam, albeit to a lesser extent.

Within the EU, the preferred destination countries of these migrants are Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

A migrant’s journey takes them from their country of origin through a number of transit countries to their eventual country of destination. Migrant smugglers and other criminals offer a wide variety of often highly priced services throughout this journey. These facilitation services include the provision of transportation, accommodation and fraudulent documents. In many cases, irregular migrants are forced to pay for these services by means of illegal labour.

Smuggling hotspots are located along the main migration routes and attract migrant smuggling networks. These hotspots may be favourably located along routes where most migrants travel or may feature easy access to transport infrastructures used for illegal facilitation activities.

In and outside the EU, more than 230 locations where illegal facilitation or migrant smuggling take place have been identified. The main criminal hotspots for migrant smuggling outside the EU are Amman, Algiers, Beirut, Benghazi, Cairo, Casablanca, Istanbul, Izmir, Misrata, Oran, and Tripoli.

The main criminal hotspots for intra-EU movements include Athens, Berlin, Budapest, Calais, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hoek van Holland, London, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Paris, Passau, Rome, Stockholm, Tornio, Thessaloniki, Vienna, Warsaw, and Zeebrugge.

The hotspots channel migratory flows, act as pull factors and have grown exponentially in the last years. Migrants gather in hotspots where they know they will have access to services during their travel to their preferred destination.

During their journeys, migrants often stop over in urban or semi-urban areas to work illegally in order to pay their debts to the migrant smugglers or to save money for the next leg of their journey.


UK: PM Cameron and the Queen’s Plan on Militant Islam

Well, it appears the United Kingdom is about to  launch a program and the Queen is announcing the plan. But the details are troublesome, in fact watered down dramatically, but could it be a start?

New anti-extremism powers to be included in Queen’s speech

Legislation expected to include measures to ban groups, close down premises and gag individuals

Guardian: David Cameron is expected to announce plans to crack down on extremism in the Queen’s speech, including powers to ban organisations, close down premises and gag individuals.

The legislation follows publication of the government’s counter-extremism strategy which also promised a full investigation into the application of sharia law in the UK.

The review has already been announced, but the Home Office is expected to appoint a chair shortly.

A Downing Street spokesman said he would not speculate on the contents of the Queen’s speech, to be held at the state opening of parliament on 18 May, but sources said that legislation was required to introduce the measures announced in October as part of the strategy.

It promised to ban radical preachers from posting material online, and bar anyone with extremist views from working with children. It also said that deradicalisation classes should be mandatory.

There are also plans to allow Ofcom to block broadcasts of “unacceptable extremist material”.

However, there appear to be questions still remaining. A Home Office source told the Times: “Getting agreement about the thresholds for what constitutes extremism and what needs to be protected as free speech is not going to be easy or straightforward.”

****** The HM Strategy document is here.

A sampling of the strategy:

Engaging internationally

    1. This strategy focuses on extremism at home but recognises that the flow of people, ideology and money is increasingly international. We will develop a clear plan of international work to reinforce our efforts to defeat extremism at home. We will also campaign to build a more robust international response to counter extremist ideology and propaganda and continue to focus on strengthening international bodies and our partners. This will be a key priority for our network of diplomatic missions, working through international institutions such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth and the European Union and through government and civil society partners. In particular, this will include steps to:
  • counter extremist ideology: we will use our international network to better understand the nature and appeal of extremist ideology, learning from and sharing international best practice to improve the effectiveness of our response;
  • build partnerships with all those opposed to extremism: we will expand our partnerships with governments and multilateral groups overseas to reduce the threat to the UK via concerted international action including tackling extremism online; and
  • disrupt extremists: we will strengthen data sharing arrangements with our overseas posts to ensure that key decision makers – including visa officials – are fully informed about individuals’ links to extremist groups. This will involve particularly close collaboration with the Extremism Analysis Unit.
  • We will work with our international partners to support implementation of the United Nations Secretary General’s Action Plan on Preventing Violent Extremism which is intended to frame what all UN member states and agencies are expected to do to tackle violent extremism. This effort will include building the capacity of international institutions and our partners, to reduce the extremist threats to UK interests emanating from overseas and thereby reinforce delivery of this strategy.44. We will also ensure that our aid programmes address the underlying drivers, enablers and narratives of extremism, particularly through efforts to build stability and security overseas. We will use the joint Conflict, Stability and Security Fund to enable greater work across Government to address transnational threats such as extremism.45. Finally, we will support collective efforts across government to engage and positively influence British communities, explaining the UK’s foreign, security and development work, and raising awareness of the impact it has overseas.

***** The 250,000 EU migrants ‘that weren’t counted’: Explosive report says official figures are underestimating number by 50,000 a year meaning migration from inside Europe is now higher than the rest of the world combined

Its report said: ‘Between 2010 and 2015 the population born in the EU8 and living in the UK increased by an average of 90,000 a year but during the same period estimated net migration from the EU8 averaged only 40,000.

‘This suggests that EU8 net migration has been undercounted by 50,000 a year in the last five years.’




Trump: America First, Foreign Policy Presentation

Good for Donald Trump, America should be first when it comes to policy and diplomacy. Applause to the Donald for that standard. Well said.

Tell us again how to pronounce Tanzania or San Bernardino.

What was not said however is disturbing for those who have a keen interest in foreign policy. Of particular note, the Ambassador of Russia was sitting on the front row. Perhaps this is but one reason, Trump never mentioned Russia or Vladimir Putin.

Remember it was only recently that Russia has been more than provocative in reckless actions against a U.S. destroyer and U.S. military aircraft. This is a violation of the IncSea Treaty. This is not the first time either, noting Russian bombers off the West Coast and the same with our European allies. What about the Baltic States, Crimea or Ukraine? Anything?

What about the constant war in the cyber realm? Trump did mention artificial intelligence, does he know what that is? What about electronic or economic warfare?

al Qaeda, Boko Harem, Haqqani, Jabhat al-Nusra, Houthis? Nah….the plight of Jews and Christians, Yazidis, Peshmerga? Standing with France on their recent attacks? Nothing about China’s aggression with the new islands and fighter jets there?

Well said Donald on the destruction of Islamic State, high marks for that. Additional high marks for the IRGC and kidnapping our sailors.

Trump made a mere simple reference to Iran and their nuclear program, stating they will never have a nuclear weapon and the Joint Plan of Action was a bad deal. How come no reference to Iran being a violator of conventions, a rogue state sponsor of terror? Nothing about the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp or Hezbollah or IED’s made by Iran that killed and maimed our soldiers? What about Iran’s collusion with North Korea? Anything on that? No…

Does Trump approve of John Kerry’s work as the current Secretary of State? Humm, perhaps as Trump never mentioned Kerry.

Syria unleashed Islamic State? Really? Trump blames China for North Korea. Does Donald think that China is fully, exclusively responsible and accountable for Kim Jung Un?

Why no mention of foreign aid? There is likely a bailout coming for Puerto Rico. Does Trump have a clue on that? When it comes to NATO, Trump backed off and merely mentioned that only four member countries pay the 2% of GDP. Never a mention that countries do pay the United States for bases and protection like Philippines and Japan. Did Trump slight Israel by not stating nurturing and restoring the relationship or is he still in a neutral position when it comes to the Palestinians? Hamas? Anything on human rights violations? What about the corruption of the United Nations?

When referencing Cuba, Trump correctly stated that Obama was slighted at the airport with no Cuban official being on the formal reception. Is Trump cool with normalizing relations with Cuba considering the treatment of dissidents or U.S. criminals that have receive safe haven on the island or the debt Cuba owes to U.S. domestic corporations for nationalizing them? What about Guantanamo as a whole?

Forgotten is a war we are currently fighting against the Taliban in Afghanistan…not a word at all by Trump.

Trump did layout his policy on foreign matters stating diplomacy, caution and restraint. That is always the standard. Did Trump mention he was going to revisit or retool those approaches? No….

Most disturbing, included in Trump’s foreign policy speech was the feeble condition of our own nuclear program and the military as a whole. Why explain any weakness at all where adversaries are listening with a keen ear? The U.S. military is still today the most advanced power on the globe while new technologies and weapons systems are in the future pipelines. Hey Donald, how about making a positive declaration about the military condition and the work of the Pentagon and the military collaboration with allies that does demonstrate strength?

Well, here is the text of his speech for your reference.

For additional reference, those included on Trump’s foreign policy team are:

Zalmay Khalilzad, the former Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan. He is under investigation. Trump only met Khalilzad earlier in the day. Further, the Ambassador stated that if Hillary had asked him to be part of her team, he would gladly do so.

Walid Phares, a Lebanese Christian and commentator on Middle East Affairs.

George Papadopoulos, energy consultant

Carter Page, energy consultant and lobbyist for Gazprom, a Russian energy company

Joe Schmitz, fired as former Inspector General, Department of Defense, formerly of Blackwater and his sister is Mary Kay Letourneau gained infamy after having a sexual relationship with her 12-year-old student, to whom she is now married.

LTG Keith Kellogg (ret), Chief Operating Officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, Iraq





A New Scheme for Syrian Refugees?

Related: Obama pledge to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees far behind schedule

Read more from the White House directly:

Refugees Welcome graphicInfographic: The screening process for refugee entry into the U.S.
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Refugees Welcome graphic
By the numbers: What you need to know about Syrian refugees in the U.S.
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“Alternative Safe Pathways” for Syrian Refugees – Resettlement in Disguise? 

By Nayla Rush With the Syrian crisis entering its sixth year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is thinking of “innovative approaches” to organize Syrian admissions, alongside the refugee resettlement program, to countries willing to welcome them. UNHCR’s target for resettlement is 480,000 places over the next three years; it is not sure how many additional admissions into the U.S. and elsewhere these new “alternative safe pathways” will ensure. Refugees who are not resettled could be “legally admitted” using various routes described below.

The legitimacy and transparency of these new “alternative pathways,” aimed at admitting increasing numbers of Syrian refugees into the United States without calling them “refugees,” remain to be seen. They might even amount to convenient admissions detours at a time when the U.S. refugee resettlement program is under tight scrutiny.

In a panel discussion on The Global Refugee Crisis: Moral Dimensions and Practical Solutions organized by the Brookings Institution earlier this year, Beth Ferris, Research Professor at Georgetown University and adviser to the United Nations Secretary General on humanitarian refugee policy, talked about the need to find different solutions to the ongoing humanitarian Syrian crisis. The refugee resettlement program was no longer sufficient to admit Syrian refugees she said; “alternative safe pathways” are needed:

Refugees and government officials are expecting this crisis to last 10 or 15 years. It’s time that we no longer work as business as usual … UNHCR next month [March 2016] is convening a meeting to look at what are being called “alternative safe pathways” for Syrian refugees. Maybe it’s hard for the U.S. to go from 2,000 to 200,000 refugees resettled in a year, but maybe there are ways we can ask our universities to offer scholarships to Syrian students. Maybe we can tweak some of our immigration policies to enable Syrian-Americans who have lived here to bring not only their kids and spouses but their uncles and their grandmothers. There may be ways that we could encourage Syrians to come to the U.S. without going through this laborious, time-consuming process of refugee resettlement.” (Emphasis added.)

The UNHCR conference Ferris was referring to took place in Geneva this March 30. It is one of a series of initiatives aimed at comprehensively addressing the Syrian crisis in 2016. The Geneva “High-level meeting on global responsibility sharing through pathways for admission of Syrian refugees” focused on the need for a substantial increase in resettlement numbers and for “innovative approaches” to admit Syrian refugees. It followed February’s London Conference on Syria, which stressed the financial aspect of this humanitarian crisis ($12 billion pledged in humanitarian aid) and precedes a September 2016 high-level plenary meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Worthy of note here, President Obama will host a global refugee summit this September 20 on the margins of this upcoming General Assembly meeting.

The focus of the Geneva meeting was to introduce “other forms of humanitarian admissions” since “[r]esettlement is not the only aim”, explained UNHCR’s spokesperson. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi appealed to the international community in his opening statement, calling for “alternative avenues” for the admission of Syrian refugees:

These pathways can take many forms: not only resettlement, but also more flexible mechanisms for family reunification, including extended family members, labour mobility schemes, student visa and scholarships, as well as visa for medical reasons. Resettlement needs vastly outstrip the places that have been made available so far… But humanitarian and student visa, job permits and family reunification would represent safe avenues of admission for many other refugees as well.

At the end of the meeting, Grandi highlighted several commitments made by a number of participants in his closing remarks. Promises were made to:

  • Increase the number of resettlement and humanitarian admission places.
  • Ease family reunification and increase possibilities for family reunion.
  • Give scholarships and student visas for Syrian refugees.
  • Remove administrative barriers and simplify processes to facilitate and expedite the admission of Syrian refugees.
  • Use resources provided by the private sector in order to create labor mobility schemes for Syrian refugees.

The Geneva meeting was attended by representatives of 92 countries, including the United States. Heather Higginbottom, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, reiterated in her remarks the U.S. commitment to refugees: “President Obama has made assisting displaced people a top priority for the U.S. government.” Last year alone the U.S. contributed more than $6 billion to humanitarian causes. So far this year, the United States has provided nearly $2.3 billion in humanitarian assistance worldwide. She also announced additional measures: “We are further increasing our support of Syrian refugees, and we will make additional contributions to the global displacement effort through September, and beyond”, while reminding the participants of President Obama’s role in hosting a high-level refugee summit this September.

The U.S. State Department released a Media Note following the Geneva meeting. It confirmed the goal of resettling at least 10,000 Syrians in FY 2016 and of 100,000 refugees from around the world by the end of FY 2017 – an increase of more that 40 percent since FY 2015. It also announced the following:

  • “The United States pledged an additional $10 million to UNHCR to strengthen its efforts to identify and refer vulnerable refugees, including Syrians, for resettlement.”
  • The United States joins UNHCR in calling for new ways nations, civil society, the private sector, and individuals can together address the global refugee challenge.”
  • “Additionally, the United States has created a program to allow U.S. citizens and permanent residents to file refugee applications for their Syrian family member.” [Emphasis added.]

On this last note, why create a family reunification program for Syrian refugees when refugees in the U.S. are already entitled to ask for their spouse and unmarried children under 21 to join them? Unless of course, the aim is to widen family circles to include aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, grandmothers and grandfathers.

Let’s see if we got this right: More Syrian refugees are to be resettled in the United States; administrative barriers (including security checks?) are to be removed to expedite admissions. Come to think of it, this is exactly what we witnessed with the “Surge Operation” in Jordan, where refugee resettlement processes were reduced from 18-24 months to three months in order to meet the target of 10,000 Syrian refugees this year.

Moreover, the United States government, by its own admission, “joins UNHCR in calling for new ways” to move more Syrians to other countries. With the U.S. Refugee Resettlement program under close scrutiny, other routes for “legal admissions” (not “resettlement”) of Syrian refugees into the United States seem more appropriate. Those routes may vary from private sponsorships, labor schemes, expanded family reunification programs, humanitarian visas, medical evacuation, to academic scholarships and apprenticeships, etc.

What remains to be determined is how transparent these “alternative pathways” will be. Will we be given details about numbers, profiles, locations, screening, or costs? Also, what additional measures are we to expect from this administration as it prepares to host a Global Refugee Summit this September 20?

Meanwhile, we are left to wonder: aren’t these “pathways” for refugees nothing more than disguised resettlement routes? Akin to “pathways to citizenship” in lieu of amnesty…