Yes to fines, no to jail or other punitive measures. Especially when you consider that a large number of people who overstay their visa do it because they applied for an extension or other change, but got turned down because they failed to dot an “i” or cross a “t” and then their immigration attorneys advised them NOT to leave because it is infinitely more difficult to get a new visa and return after leaving than it is to stay illegally and renew an expired visa. (How’s THAT for a run-on sentence? I apologize to every English teacher that ever tried to teach me better...)
We need to completely overhaul our immigration laws and fix the racism and xenophobia inherent in the current laws. All laws for immigration, especially asylum and the renewal of visas or changing the type of visa (i.e. from student to work) need to be approached from a place of empathy. How can we make this process easier? How can we make it more understandable to someone WITHOUT a law degree? What simple, common sense steps can we take to ensure that immigrants know what to expect each step along the way? If we require that an immigrant know something, we need to ensure that they are TAUGHT it as part of the process,not require that they learn it on their own before applying. Provide translators and/or paperwork and explanations in the immigrants native language no matter HOW well they speak and understand English because that can ensure there are significantly fewer misunderstandings of the process and what is expected of the immigrant during the process.