Congresswoman Martha McSally

Representing the 2nd District of Arizona

U.S. Rep. McSally: Visa Overstays are a National Security Problem

May 23, 2017
Press Release

 WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Martha McSally today led a hearing as Chairwoman of the Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Committee to evaluate visa overstays and the impact on national security. As reported Monday in USA Today, the Department of Homeland Security released a report yesterday revealing that nearly 740,000 people overstayed their visa at some point in 2016, and close to 630,000 of them were still in the country at the end of last year. That’s twice as many overstays as people apprehended at the land border.

“With this year’s number of border apprehensions at record lows, visa overstays are a much, much bigger problem than it has been historically. We have to keep the DHS focused on both problem sets – illicit traffic that crosses the land border and the growing problem of visa overstays,” said Rep. McSally in her opening statement. “Visa overstays have historically been the primary means for terrorist entry into the United States, and we must place greater emphasis on the visa process as a counterterrorism tool.”

During the hearing, Rep. McSally highlighted the role that penalties play in deterring visa overstays. She questioned John Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, U.S. Customs and Border Protection about the discrepancy between penalties for illegally crossing the border after deportation— a felony, versus overstaying a visa which results in bars for admission to the country for a set amount of time.

Rep. McSally also questioned what resources would be necessary to implement the federally mandated biometrically-based entry-exit system—a method of tracking the arrival and exit of foreign visitors, which was a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission.

To watch that exchange, click HERE.