Sen. Tom Carper Proposes Text Reminders to People Who Might Overstay Their Visas

By Melanie Arter | May 8, 2013 | 9:59 AM EDT

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of Senate Homeland Security Committee (AP Photo)

( – Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, proposed Tuesday using text messages to remind people who are inside the U.S. on visas when their visas are scheduled to run out.

“You’ve got a month to go on your visa. You got two weeks to go. You got a week to go. You got a day to go, and the idea that people know that we know that they’re here, we know that their time is running out, and we’re watching them,” Carper said, describing ways the possible text messages that can be used to remind people when their visa will expire.

Carper said he got the idea while he was visiting the U.S.-Mexico border and remembered a program called Text for Baby created by Johnson & Johnson that sent reminders to new parents via text messages.

“Johnson & Johnson has come up with something called Text for Baby, and what it is, is the ability to send to a new mom or dad on their phone using texting reminders. Okay you’ve got a doctor’s check-up coming up in two weeks. You’ve got a doctor’s check-up coming up tomorrow. Immunization – your baby should be getting this immunization today tomorrow, next week, next month. Just all kinds of things using Text for Baby,” he said.

“Almost everybody, especially younger people, have cell phones. They do a lot of texting anyway,” Carper said, calling it a “cost-effective” tool that is the “digital successor to what we were doing with paper 15 years ago.”

When he was governor of Delaware, Carper said, the state offered training to new parents in the hospital right after the baby was born, followed it up with home visits “especially for high-risk situations,” and offered five-year “Cliff Notes on how to raise your baby in terms of check-ups, immunizations, food, diet.”

“One of the ideas that I heard when I was down on the border somewhere on this was an idea that why don’t we do a similar thing with people who are here legally but not forever,” he said.

“They’re not here on permanent status. They are a student. They are a visitor. They are tourists. They are a worker, and to send them a reminder. Text them,” Carper added.

Text messages could be another way to deal with the immigration problem, Carper said, besides using drones to monitor the border.

“And that could probably do something positive. That’s an idea that we’re talking about - a lot of technology, stuff up in the air. Here’s one that might use the airwaves, but in a different kind of way,” he added.