USA Today notes that many alien workers enter the country legally, though they attain illegal status when working papers expire.
Here's a fact you don't hear much about: Between a third and a half of the nation's illegal immigrants — at least 3.8 million people — entered the USA legally. That's right. They didn't slip across the border in the dead of night. They came from all over the world, stayed longer than their visas or entry documents allowed, and melted into society. There's little to stop them, despite millions spent on a post-9/11 program supposedly aimed at those who "overstay."
Hang on for a local angle, kindly pointed out to us by someone working for another gubernatorial candidate.
Record-keeping on who stays and goes has been so haphazard for decades that the government can't even say how many "overstays" there are, let alone figure out how to find and deport them. To do those jobs, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would need three things: an effective system to track all foreign entrants, another to track those who leave, and enough agents and judicial manpower to go after those who remain illegally.
It has none of those.
But DHS isn't solely to blame. Until 9/11, Congress was as schizophrenic about tracking foreigners who overstayed their visas as it is about nearly every other aspect of immigration.
More than two years after the terror attacks, the government started an automated entry-exit system called US-VISIT. Then-DHS undersecretary Asa Hutchinson promised that "we will be able to know who is overstaying their visa." But US-VISIT can't deliver because of how DHS has chosen to run it: