How Many Visa Overstayers?

USAToday reported February 25 that “Half the problem is people who enter legally, then stay illegally.” The article asserts that “As many as 45% of the nation’s illegal immigrants — perhaps 5 million people — entered the U.S. legally but failed to leave.” The article sources that statistic to a 2006 report of the Pew Hispanic Center. Pew’s estimate was based on a Census Bureau survey.

It is obviously tricky to base estimates about illegal aliens on a government survey, because illegal aliens do not willingly provide information to government agents. But, besides that, there is good reason to question that the share of illegal aliens could be as large as 45 or 50 percent.

Survey work done after the 1986 amnesty asked aliens who gained legal status how they entered the country. These people had legal status so they had no reason to hide from the interviewers. The result was that 21 percent of them said they entered with visas. But that number is deceptive because the survey was done only among the illegal aliens who got amnesty as a result of living in the United States since before the amnesty eligibility date in 1982. Another two-fifths of the amnesty recipients applied under a separate provision for agricultural workers. It is unlikely very many of them entered with visas. If those additional amnesty recipients were added into the other amnesty sample, the rate of visa overstayers would drop to less than 13 percent.

The illegal alien population is much larger today – nearly 12 million – than it was in 1986, and the number of illegal workers in agriculture has remained about the same. It is hard to imagine that the share of visa overstayers has increased from about 13 percent to 45 to 50 percent.

Why would anyone care what share of the illegal aliens are visa overstayers? Visa overstayers are generally much more educated and prepared to take well-paying jobs than those who sneak into the country. The higher the visa overstayer share, the more it bolsters arguments that a new amnesty will not place a major burden on the U.S. taxpayer for the social services that the amnestied population will become eligible for.

Comments

  1. avatar Farmer Don says:

    Crossed the border under the fence or visa overstay, same thing, ILLEGAL, AGAINST THE LAW.. Here’s just a small example of visa overstay: I spend my winters in Thailand and know first hand how some of these people here play this game. They pay some crooked travel agent/job broker thousands of dollars to get a tourist visa with no intention of ever doing any touring. They have people waiting for them to either work in Thai resturants,Thai massage parlors, or some sweat shop sewing clothes for less than minimum wage. They’ll stay there years without returning to their families because when they get their debt paid off and have sent HOME enough money to buy whatever it is they can’t buy with money they might have earned here(minimum wage here just went up to $10 A DAY) and here’s the kicker, They know when it’s finally time to go home they’ll buy a ticket and just leave because our stupid government won’t jail them or fine them, they’re just glad they’re going and maybe blacklist them for any future returns, maybe that is if they didn’t get into a fraudulent marriage with some lowlife citizen that will allow them to get their green card. Here’s another interesting fact, for a 90 day non-immigrant visa to Thailand they charge $80 per entry and if you OVERSTAY it is a 500 baht(17 to 18 USD) per DAY fine and you’re not going anywhere until that is paid, probably to jail if you can’t pay it. Other countries don’t play around with this situation like the USA does. Just my 2 cents worth.

  2. avatar tncdel says:

    I have a tad more respect for a foreigner who at least initially made an effort to comply with our immigration laws than I do one who snuck into our country from the beginning. I think the “overstayers” are the ones who should get consideration for a “pathway” to rectify their lost legal status. But not those who never made any effort.

    The ONLY way to stop the illegal alien invasion: MAKE THINGS AS TOUGH AS POSSIBLE on the illegals, so they will self-deport back to Mexico, etc. at their own expense because they get to hate it here so much. We certainly can’t afford to deport over 20 million illegals. Plus most would only come right back if we tried.

    • avatar J says:

      THERE ARE 30 MILLION ILLEGALS HERE NOW MAYBE MORE AND ALL WE NEED TO DO IS TO MAKE E-VERIFY MANDATORY AND 80% WOULD SELF DEPORT ALMOST OVER NIGHT UNCLE SCAM KNOWS THIS OWEBOMA KNOWS THIS EVERY AMERICA HATING DEMOC RAT KNOWS THIS AND THEY WOULD NEVER EVER ALLOW 30 MILLION POTENTIAL DEMOC RAT VOTES TO LEAVE THE USA.

  3. avatar Leland says:

    I think I get the point here, it’s not trying to justify an amnesty for overstayers, but I don’t know if I agree that a lot of the visa overstays are more likely to be educated. I think a lot are simply relatives of people already here who don’t leave after a visit. It’s common knowledge in Florida that when you get here from Haiti, Cuba, or the Caribbean, you just stay.

    • Yes Leland

      I live in Microsoftland, the city of “cheap decrepit insourced replacement techs” from India….I see the old folks [parents] from India wanderring all over now….waiting out the 5 years and they get Medicaid….

  4. Who Cares About Visa Over-stayers?

    Try the 14% U6 unemployment currently counted in America….I’d also add the undocumented rest of the story on unemployment, the masses we’ve stopped counting.

    How many are living on a poverty early retirement, because they can’t get work in the scarce skilled/unskilled job market? Plenty!

    How many students are there that never worked and can’t find a job, but aren’t counted as unemployed [because they never worked]? Plenty!

    How mant stayed on extended unemployment more than 6 months and now find themselves unemployable and uncounted? Plenty!

    • avatar Gifty says:

      some people have there own reasons for then to overstay, say like u visit a family and they want to abuse you, just because you don’t know the system in the country.

      • avatar John WInthrop says:

        Gifty that is not right……………………I hope eventually you find your way out and if you stay i the US legally I hope you do right by our land and what we represent.