In its widely-cited 2006 review, the Pew Hispanic Center estimated that nearly half of all illegal immigrants living in the United States entered the country legally through a port of entry such as an airport and overstayed their visas. While we need to find a practical solution to the status of people who are here illegally today, as we secure the border going forward, we also need to identify and send home the people who enter the country legally but overstay their visas or otherwise violate the terms of their admission.
Unfortunately, without a system in place to track adequately who has actually left the country, it is difficult to know who these individuals are. A biometric exit system must be rapidly implemented so that immigration and national security officials know with certainty who is, and is not, in this country.
We also need to increase federal resources dedicated to overstay enforcement. In FY 2012, the federal agency that investigates overstay cases, among other activities, spent less than 2 percent of their time on these cases.
Furthermore, we need to create intergovernmental task forces to locate and apprehend overstays, especially those who present public safety risks. With proper training and supervision, state and local police could augment federal agents because they know their communities and have more boots on the ground.