US visa overstays, Trump border wall and US Govt. shutdown

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Amid Trump’s partial shutdown of the US government in a row over funding for his anti-immigrant border wall, a new study has found that US visa overstays have far exceeded illegal border crossings for a seventh consecutive year. 

Sanwar Ali comment:

The US Government shutdown due to disagreement over the funding of the border wall seems to be affecting US visa applications as well. For weeks it seems to be very difficult completing the online DS-160 non-immigrant visa form. There seems to be a number of technical problems. You need to complete this form if you need a non-immigrant visa appointment. So if you do want an appointment at the US Embassy at the moment you may be able to obtain an appointment very quickly. Important work based non-immigrant visas include the L1 visa, E2 visa, E1 visa, H1B visa and B1 in lieu of H1B visa.

The New York-based Center for Migration Studies recently published a report highlighting that US visa overstayers accounted for 62 percent of newly undocumented migrants in 2016-17, compared to 38 percent of people who had crossed US borders illegally.

Currently, Trump is attempting to rally support and funds for his controversial border wall, which is estimated to cost more than $5 billion. In an effort to strong-arm Congress, Trump instigated a partial shutdown of the US government on 22 December, 2018.

Trump has insisted that the closure of the government will continue until his demands to build a wall on the US-Mexico border are met. Following a Christmas Day video conference with US troops serving abroad, the President said: “I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen.”

“I can tell you it’s not going to reopen until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want, but it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into the country, from drugs. If we don’t have a wall then we’re just not opening,” Trump added.

US visa overstaying has become a trend 

Meanwhile, executive director of the Center for Migration Studies, Donald Kerwin, said: “It is apparent from our research that persons who overstay their US visa add to the undocumented population at a higher rate than illegal border crossers. This is not a blip, but a trend which has become the norm.”

“As the numbers in our report indicate, construction of hundreds of more miles of border wall would not address the challenge of irregular migration into our country… far from it,” Kerwin added.

The study further revealed that the number of undocumented immigrants arriving in the US from Mexico dropped by nearly 400,000 people in 2017 and since 2010 the number has declined by 1.3 million.

Robert Warren, author of the study, said: “We have made tremendous progress since the year 2000 in reducing undocumented immigration into the USA. The Bush and Obama administrations had roughly doubled the size of the Border Patrol and the country has seen results.”

“In another era, we would be celebrating our success,” Warren added.

Additionally, the study found that – for the first time since records began – the unauthorized population from Mexico accounted for less than half of all undocumented people in the US.

However, Mexico was the top country for US visa overstays in 2016, with twice the number compared to people from India, China and Venezuela, according to the study.

The study concluded: “Since more than half of all US undocumented residents arrive by air, US visa-issuing posts have become the real frontline deterrent to undocumented migration. This report suggests that more attention and resources should be given to that crucial mission of the US Department of State.”

Honduran migrant caravan heading for US southern border

The US-Mexico border has been a site of unsavoury scenes and tragedy in recent months. The world has watched on as US border patrol officers have fired tear gas on the Central American migrant caravan and forcibly separated migrant families, while the deaths of children in US immigration custody have added to the crisis.

Trump has blamed the deaths of migrant children at the border on Democrats and their ‘pathetic immigration’ policies. 

In a tweet posted on December 29, 2018, Trump wrote: ‘Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally. They can’t. If we had a Wall, they wouldn’t even try!’

As Trump continues to push for a border wall, a new migrant caravan has formed, with hundreds of Hondurans reportedly heading for the US. The caravan continues to grow and recently crossed the border, peacefully, into Guatemala.   

In November 2018, Trump deployed more than 5,000 US troops at the southern border, and recent reports indicate that they could remain there until September 2019. Since deploying the troops, the Central American migrant caravan has seemingly dwindled, with US officials claiming that many have returned home or remained in Mexico.

Hondurans heading for the US border can expect a hostile welcome as Trump continues to enforce hard-line immigration policies. On January 15, Trump tweeted: “A big new Caravan is heading up to our Southern Border from Honduras. Tell Nancy and Chuck that a drone flying around will not stop them. Only a Wall will work.” can help with US employment-based visas

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