Newsweek had to perform an embarrassing climbdown. Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas, and an old friend of mine) had said that millions of illegal immigrants would receive money from the “American Rescue Plan” the Democrats have just enacted. Newsweek said that was false, but then admitted it was true: The plan would give checks to people who had overstayed their visas. “Once they overstay, they technically are considered ‘illegal.’”
Technically? A spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection uses the word in Newsweek’s story, but it’s not apt. There is a terminological dispute over whether to call people who are not in the U.S. legally “illegal immigrants” or “undocumented immigrants,” but nobody disputes that a large proportion of the group — however labeled — are people who came here legally and then overstayed their visas. The size of the overall group has often been treated as an argument for an “amnesty” or “legalization.”
And the size of the visa-overstaying population has often been treated as a reason to doubt that a wall at the Mexican border would go very far toward stopping illegal immigration. See, for example, this article from 2019, in Newsweek.
Update: Speaking of terminology, I’ve fixed the reference to Customs and Border Protection (not Patrol). Thanks to the tweeter who pointed it out.