New York Times: America’s Undocumented Immigrants are Not Who You Think

On December 1st, 2019, The New York Times published an illuminating story on America’s undocumented immigrants. Once again, the report shows that our country’s undocumented immigrants are much more diverse and complex than most people think. Sadly, these misperceptions are sometimes used by politicians to trigger anti-immigrant sentiment. 

Public opinion polling shows that most people associate undocumented immigration with unauthorized crossings of the border, particularly in the south. However, the reality is much more complicated—approximately half of all undocumented immigrants initially came to the United States on a valid visa. It is a reminder that the tired stereotypes about immigration in America are simply not accurate. 

Visa Overstays Outnumbered Unauthorized Border Crossing for Seven Straight Years

The Trump Administration has put an enormous amount of time, energy, and resources into demonizing immigrants who are crossing the United States-Mexico border. Though, the simple reality is that this is not an accurate portrayal of immigration in America. Did you know that only 38 percent of all newly undocumented people in the United States since 2015 entered the country without authorization? According to reporting from National Public Radio (NPR), 62 percent of newly undocumented Americans fell out of status after overstaying their visas. 

While overstaying a visa subjects an immigrant to harsh penalties—including potential visa cancellation and even a lengthy bar from re-entering the United States—there are still options available. Notably, if you overstay a visa for less than 180 days, you will typically not be deemed ineligible for admissibility. However, overstaying a visa for more than 180 days is a more serious issue—subjecting an immigrant to severe sanctions. If you overstayed a visa, you need to take immediate action to protect your rights. Contact an experienced immigration attorney in Los Angeles for help.  

Undocumented Immigrants are Diverse

Our culture’s understanding of undocumented immigration is lacking in many ways. In reality, undocumented immigrants are far more diverse than most people realize—coming from a wide array of different countries and backgrounds. The majority of new undocumented immigrants are not from Mexico. The Center for Migration Studies (CMS) reports that the number of undocumented immigrants from Mexico actually fell by 400,000 since 2017 and by 1.3 million since 2010. 

Some of the leading countries for visa overstays are China, India, Venezuela, and Canada. In fact, in 2018, more people from Canada overstayed their visas than from any other country. Many other European countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, also rank high on the list for visa overstays. The bottom line: America’s undocumented immigrants are not who you think. 

Get Immediate Assistance from an Attorney

At the Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our team is made up of skilled, experienced immigration lawyers. If you have any questions about visa overstays or immigration law in general, we can help. To arrange a strictly private consultation, please call our Los Angeles office today. We are committed to providing reliable advice, representation, and support to clients.