DHS Having Trouble Tracking Visa Overstays Due to Poor IT Systems05 Jun 2017
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has released a report detailing how technological limitations have hampered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) efforts to track those who overstay their nonimmigrant status in the United States (i.e. visa overstays). ICE is DHS’s lead component that is responsible for immigration enforcement within the United States and primarily responsible for in-country nonimmigrant visa overstay tracking and enforcement. The report shows that ICE faces systems and management limitations that hinder its ability to effectively track visa overstays, and makes recommendations for ICE aimed at correcting this deficiency.
Findings from the Audit
The OIG found that DHS IT systems do not effectively support ICE visa tracking operations. The personnel responsible for investigating in-country visa overstays are forced to review information from several different disparate systems and databases. Data related to an individual’s immigration status is not well structured or easily accessible. Often, multiple systems are used in the process and these systems are not integrated or centralized, which adds to the inefficiency and ineffectiveness of the process. The audit also found that the DHS fails to provide the proper oversight, management, and training needed to effectively use the current systems for tracking visa overstays.
The OIG report makes five recommendations to the DHS to improve effectiveness in this realm. These recommendations center on increased efforts to improve information sharing and modernize information technology systems across the DHS. The report also recommends that ICE improve training and guidance for personnel on how to effectively track visa overstays.
The current administration has placed an emphasis on compliance and enforcement of immigration laws. Overstaying one’s visa could have serious consequences. Although the report makes it clear that the DHS is not effectively tracking individuals who overstay their visas, the recommendations are aimed at improving the effectiveness of these efforts and should lead to better tracking. This means that those who are overstaying may have a greater likelihood of being subject to deportations / removal proceedings with the tracking improvements.
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