NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Porous U.S. Borders

October 16, 2001

Congress is weighing a range of new measures to tighten the nation's all-too-porous borders. But the challenges are daunting.

  • At about 300 air, land and sea ports of entry, the Immigration and Naturalization Service inspects more than 300 million noncitizens a year -- some traveling on visas, but the majority being admitted without them, such as people who live along the Canadian border.
  • In fiscal 2000, the State Department processed 9.6 million nonimmigrant visa applications, which are required for temporary visits.

But forgeries of visas are growing -- as are the number of visa holders who overstay.

  • The INS testified in 1999 that as many as half the illegal population consisted of "overstays" who arrived legally.
  • The number of overstays is estimated at two million -- and is growing by 125,000 a year.

Source: Chris Adams, "Gaps in Immigration System Could Leave U.S. Vulnerable," Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2001.

For WSJ text (requires subscription)


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