• 739,478 visitors to U.S. in FY2016 overstayed their visas – and 628,799 are still in U.S.

    DHS earlier this week released the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Entry/Exit Overstay Report. The report provides data on departures and overstays, by country, for foreign visitors to the United States who entered as nonimmigrant visitors through an air or sea Port of Entry (POE) and were expected to depart in FY16. CBP processed 50,437,278 in-scope nonimmigrant admissions at U.S. air and sea POEs who were expected to depart in FY16—of which 739,478 overstayed their admission, resulting in a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent. Of the more than 739,000 overstays, DHS determined 628,799 were suspected “in-country” overstays, resulting in a suspected in-country overstay rate of 1.25 percent. An individual who is a suspected in-country overstay has no recorded departure, while an out-of-country overstay has a recorded departure that occurred after their lawful admission period expired.

  • Border walls may pose serious challenges to biodiversity, but smaller challenges to humans

    With the prospect of a U.S.-Mexico border wall looming, research and reporting on the ecological impacts of walls is both important and timely. Reporting in BioScience on such barriers’ known effects on wildlife, science journalist Lesley Evans Ogden describes the potential effects of the proposed structure along the 2000-mile U.S.-Mexico border. “If the wall is completed, it will create a considerable biodiversity conservation challenge—one unlikely to disappear anytime soon,” she writes.

  • ICE-led anti-gang campaign nets 1,378 arrests nationwide

    A six-week nationwide gang operation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) concluded this weekend with 1,378 arrests across the United States – the largest gang surge conducted by HSI to date. The operation targeted gang members and associates involved in transnational criminal activity, including drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, human smuggling and sex trafficking, murder and racketeering.

  • ACLU issues Texas “travel advisory”

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a “travel alert” informing anyone planning to travel to Texas in the near future to anticipate the possible violation of their constitutional rights when stopped by law enforcement. The ACLU says that the alert comes amid the passing of a Texas law known as SB4. The law gives a green light to police officers in the state to investigate a person’s immigration status during a routine traffic stop, leading to widespread racial profiling, baseless scrutiny, and illegal arrests of citizens and non-citizens alike presumed to be “foreign” based on how they look or sound.

  • Lawsuit over sanctuary cities bill is just a matter of time, opponents say

    The question isn’t whether or not the Texas attorney general’s office will be hauled to court over a Texas Senate bill to ban “sanctuary” policies in Texas — but, more likely, when they’ll be asked to defend Senate Bill 4 (SB4) in a federal court. The legislation makes sheriffs, constables, police chiefs and other local leaders subject to a Class A misdemeanor and possible jail time if they don’t cooperate with federal authorities and honor requests from immigration agents to hold inmates who are subject to deportation. It includes civil penalties for entities that violate the provision that begin at $1,000 for a first offense and climb to as high as $25,500 for subsequent infractions. It also applies to public colleges.

  • Border wall will not stop drug smugglers: Studies

    A U.S. government report shows that drug traffickers adapt their techniques in response to increased overland security, undermining the argument that a border wall will prevent the entry of illicit drugs into the United States. Most of the drugs enter the United States concealed in passenger vehicles or hidden among legitimate goods on freight vehicles. Government agencies say that there are better ways than building a wall to address cross-border trafficking. These would include improved detection technology, inter-agency coordination, and better techniques for gathering and analyzing information and intelligence.

  • Some visa applicants would be asked to provide five years’ worth of social media posts

    The State Department is planning to ask people who apply for visas to live and work in the United States, to allow government officials to review their social media post going back five years. The State Department will also ask applicants for their email addresses and phone numbers, and for their work and travel history during the previous fifteen years. Applicants will also have to provide the names and dates of birth of immediate family members. The new measures would apply only to individuals who have been identified as requiring additional security screening – for example, people who have travelled to countries and areas where known terrorist organizations are active. The State Department estimates that the new policy would apply to about 65,000 people a year, or about 0.5 percent of visa applicants.

  • Lawsuits filed about electronic privacy, profiling abuses at borders, airports

    Earlier this week, two lawsuits were filed in federal court to demand that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) release information about how federal officials have treated travelers who are Muslim or who are perceived to be Muslim at United States borders, including airports. The lawsuits highlight the numerous recent reports of individuals who are or are perceived to be Muslim having their electronic devices searched while traveling or having their trusted traveler status revoked without explanation.

  • Efforts to prevent alternative methods of border crossing need better monitoring: GAO

    As DHS has increased the security of overland smuggling routes, transnational criminal organizations have adapted their techniques to smuggle drugs and humans through alternative methods. These methods include cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational maritime vessels. GAO says that while these methods account for a small proportion of known smuggling, they can be used to transport significant quantities of drugs or for terrorist activity.

  • Rewriting NAFTA has serious implications beyond just trade

    President Donald J. Trump has called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) our “worst trade deal.” After flip-flopping between scrapping NAFTA altogether and saying that the agreement required only tweaks, Trump is trying to force a renegotiation of a deal that supports three million American jobs. This may seem like just another trade dispute, but NAFTA has bound together North America’s economic and security considerations. The renegotiation of NAFTA may thus have serious implications not only for trade and the continental economy, but also for immigration and border security. Bad deal or not, NAFTA has fundamentally reshaped North America’s immigration and security policies. Any changes to NAFTA will certainly have repercussions that reach far beyond the economy.

  • U.S. border agents illegally turning away asylum seekers at U.S. border: Report

    Human Rights First on Wednesday released a new report documenting dozens of instances in which U.S. border agents illegally turned away asylum seekers from the U.S. southern border. “We’ve documented dozens of cases in which individuals seeking protection from violence and persecution have been unlawfully turned away. These actions by U.S. border agents not only violate U.S. laws and treaty commitments, but put individuals’ lives in danger by sending them into the hands of persecutors, traffickers, or cartels,” said the lead researcher on the report.

  • Every minute counts: Australian man faces 6 months in jail for overstaying visa by 1.5 hours

    Baxter Reid, A 26-year old Australian, has been detained by U.S. border officials for overstaying his visa for just over an hour. Baxter and his American girlfriend were traveling to Canada to comply with the requirement of leaving and re-entering the United States every six months, in order to keep his five-year visa valid. They arrived at the border crossing near Buffalo with two hours to spare – but paperwork problems on the Canadian side forced them to stay on the U.S. side, and Baxter was arrested at 1:30 a.m. for overstaying his visa by an hour-and-a-half. He is being kept in a Buffalo jail, and was told he could face six months in jail before his case is heard by a judge.

  • How crossing the U.S.-Mexico border became a crime

    It was not always a crime to enter the United States without authorization. In fact, for most of American history, immigrants could enter the United States without official permission and not fear criminal prosecution by the federal government. That changed in 1929. On its surface, Congress’s new prohibitions on informal border crossings simply modernized the U.S. immigration system by compelling all immigrants to apply for entry. However, in my new book City of Inmates, I detail how Congress outlawed border crossings with the specific intent of criminalizing, prosecuting, and imprisoning Mexican immigrants.

  • DHS launches new Office for victims of illegal immigrant crime

    Homeland Security secretary John Kelly the other day announced the official launch of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement Office (VOICE). The VOICE office will assist victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens. ICE built the VOICE office in response to the Executive Order entitled Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, which directed DHS to create an office to support victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens.

  • Germany: Rise in crimes committed by foreigners -- and in crimes by right-wing extremists

    Earlier this week Germany’s Interior Ministry released the 2016 police crime statistics, including statistics of politically motivated crime. Compared to 2015, the number is up by 6.6 percent and has reached a new high. The main factor is the soaring number of politically motivated crimes by foreigners, which has risen by 66.5 percent to a total of 3,372 offenses. The backlash against the large number of migrants allowed into Germany in 2015 and 2016 manifests itself in crime statistics as well: While the number violent offenses motivated by left-wing extremism fell by 24.2 percent, the number of violent offences committed by right-wing extremists rose by 14.3 percent.