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Illegal immigration stat: Visa overstays exceed border crossings?

By Lee Cleveland - December 31, 2022

We don’t have stats for 2022, but a report released in January 2019 by the Center for Migration Studies of New York found that from 2016 to 2017, visitors who overstayed their visas accounted for 62 percent of the newly undocumented, while just 38 percent of illegals crossed a border illegally during that period.

In fact, according to the same report, visa overstays consistently far exceeded unauthorized border crossings from 2010 to 2017. (We’re working on locating post-2017 data)

“It is clear from our research that persons who overstay their visas add to the US undocumented population at a higher rate than border crossers. This is not a blip, but a trend which has become the norm,” said Donald Kerwin, CMS’ executive director, in a statement. 

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



The 2016-2017 study also found that for the first time the unauthorized population from Mexico constituted less than one-half of all the illegal immigrants in the U.S. That stated, Mexico had the most visa overstays in 2016, “about twice the number from India, China, and Venezuela,” according to the study.

“We have made tremendous progress since the year 2000 in reducing undocumented immigration into this country,” the study’s author, CMS senior fellow Robert Warren, told NPR.

Warren, the director of statistics at the Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1986 to 1995, insisted that both the Bush and Obama administrations had nearly doubled the size of the Border Patrol, consequently achieving fine results.



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

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