Illegal aliens who have overstayed their visas are “not necessarily” committing a crime just by remaining in the country illegally, according to CNN.
The cable network explained in a piece titled “Are undocumented immigrants committing a crime? Not necessarily”, noting that they are not technically committing a crime by refusing to leave the U.S.:
Under federal law, it is a crime for anyone to enter into the U.S. without the approval of an immigration officer — it’s a misdemeanor offense that carries fines and no more than six months in prison.
Many foreign nationals, however, enter the country legally every day on valid work or travel visas, and end up overstaying for a variety of reasons.
But that’s not a violation of federal criminal law — it’s a civil violation that gets handled in immigration court proceedings.
In fact, a 2006 study showed that roughly 45% of undocumented immigrants originally entered the US legally, but then remained in the country without authorization after their visas had expired.
Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) Mark Krikorian, though, says visa over-stays must commit a slew of federal crimes not only to remain in the U.S., but to work in the country as well.
“If they’re working, most illegal immigrants who work, work on the books,” Krikorian told Breitbart Texas. “If that’s true, that means they produce false federal documents in order to work. You must show a driver’s license or Social Security number.”
“If the information you’re showing is false, that’s perjury,” Krikorian said.
In fact, back in 2013, CIS specifically chronicled the “myth” about visa over-stays being referred to by the mainstream media as “law-abiding” residents of the U.S.
Among many crimes, visa over-stays may commit Social Security fraud, produce fraudulent and false statements, or impersonate a U.S. citizen in order to continue working.
CNN does not mention these offenses–instead ending the visa over-stay debate on the notion that it is simply not a federal crime and therefore President Donald Trump should not be targeting these individuals for deportation.
“So although there are more than 11 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S., they haven’t all committed a crime just by being in the country,” CNN writer Laura Jarrett concludes.
Krikorian says CNN is using the “over-staying a visa is not a federal crime” argument “as some kind of justification for giving them a pass.”
Despite the issue being a civil violation, Krikorian told Breitbart Texas that he questions whether or not over-staying a visa should remain as such.
The vast majority of illegal aliens who cross the U.S. Southern border are from Mexico and Central America. Visa over-stays, on the other hand, tend to be of Asian, Middle Eastern, and European descent, according to Krikorian.
Keeping visa-overstays as a civil violation is unfair, Krikorian says, because while border crossers are criminalized, visa matters are not.
“That should be rectified,” Krikorian said. “Staying over 30 or 60 days after your visa expires should be a criminal offense.”
John Binder is a contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.