Donald Trump is commanding center stage with his pronouncements on illegal immigration. He says he will build a wall along the Mexican border, from the Pacific to the Gulf of Mexico, and that he will get the government of Mexico to pay for it.
He conjures up a vision of thousands of Mexican rapists, drug dealers and other criminals flowing here unimpeded. He claims he “invented” immigration as an issue. It’s true he is the one who has made it the issue of the day every day recently, but the other candidates had been discussing it for months.
Trump suggests that the Mexican government might even be behind the flow of illegal immigrants across our southern border. He said he had evidence to substantiate that claim. When asked for it by a journalist, he said he’d had a guided tour of the Mexican border. It turns out this included a chance conversation with a member of the Border Patrol who grumbled that he thought the Mexican government hadn’t been doing enough to stop border crossings.
Trump talks as if a 10-foot-high wall across the border will stop the flow of illegals into the country. He adds that the wall “should have a door” through which we can welcome legal immigrants.
Unmentioned in Trump’s orations is that the U.S. Government estimates that some 40 percent of the approximately 11 million illegal immigrants now in the country came here on legitimate visas. The problem is that they did not return home when their visas expired.
This is a very large hole in Trump’s imaginary wall and deserves discussion.
Under the present system, there is no formal warning to inbound temporary visa holders to be prepared to depart on time. The Immigration and Customs service does not know where to find them and thus ignores them.
Needed is a comprehensive system that begins at the point of entry (in most cases an airport). In addition to showing a passport and visa, an entrant should be required to provide an address (or addresses) of where he/she expects to be during the time of the visit, along with telephone numbers and an email address.
In addition, these visa holders should be required to show evidence of departure transportation (a return air ticket, for example). The number of the ticket would be recorded and verified by the Immigration & Customs service.
The visa holder would also be warned that his/her visa will be canceled if they do not call in advance of expiration to report any new contact information.
The airline, cruise line, or other transportation mode should be advised to notify Immigration & Customs if the person seeks to change any homebound travel arrangements (such as canceling a ticket and requesting a refund).
Then, say, a week before visa’s expiration, the holder is called by Immigration & Customs to be reminded of the departure date. If, on departure day, the person is not aboard the outbound flight, notification would be widely disseminated that the visa is canceled and cannot be renewed. The holder is to be picked up by authorities for immediate deportation.
This will take planning and legislation, but it’s worth doing — compared to what the government does now, which is nothing once the person is allowed in.
Will Trump recognize this and make it part of his “wall” strategy? It’s time for him to replace ringing generalizations with such substance.
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