U.S. Representative Candice Miller (MI-10), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, today made the following statement regarding the Department of Homeland Security's Visa Security Plan submitted to Congress. Miller has held several hearings regarding the progress made by the Department since 2003 in indentifying overstays, especially those that pose national security and public safety threats, and how the Department plans to implement a robust visa exit system that will prevent terrorists from successfully exploiting the visa process. Miller said:
"As Chairman of the Border and Maritime Security, I continue to be concerned with the Department's ability to effectively identify and remove individuals who overstay their visas. At least four of the 9/11 hijackers overstayed their visa, which points to the importance of identifying who enters and exits the country, and especially preventing terrorists from successfully exploiting the visa system. Our national security is dependent on successfully securing our borders, and over the last year I have held several oversight hearings to examine the Department's efforts to establish an effective visa exit system. I am pleased that the Department has responded by releasing a plan that is built on biographic data, with the ultimate goal of using that to establish a verifiable biometric exit system as the law requires.
"As part of this plan, the Department plans to leverage the Beyond the Border agreement with Canada that will provide the Department with the ability to obtain exit information for travelers arriving in Canada after exiting through U.S. ports of entry."
Last year, the Department had a backlog of 1.6 million visa overstay records that needed to be vetted to determine if those individuals were still in the country or posed a national security threat to the country. As a result of the vetting of that backlog, several individuals of concern were forwarded to Immigration and for further investigation.
"It is clear that we need a comprehensive strategy to secure our borders and track down those who overstay their visa, especially those who pose a threat to our communities. I commend the Department for this important first step. We will continue to conduct vigorous oversight of our visa process to ensure that we have the ability to quickly identify, and remove those who overstay their visa," said Miller.