The overstay report issued last week – which only addressed temporary nonimmigrant visitors for business or pleasure for one fiscal year – revealed that 527,127 of these individuals overstayed their visas or periods of unauthorized stay in FY 2015. At the end of the fiscal year, 482,781 of these individuals were still in the United States, including 219 individuals from Afghanistan, 564 from Iran, 681 from Iraq, 56 from Libya, 1,435 from Pakistan, 440 from Syria, and 219 from Yemen. And the report contained similar numbers from FY 2014.
The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it removed only 2,500 individuals in FY2015 for overstaying a visa without a separate criminal conviction.
The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that it had ongoing investigations against only 3,000 visa overstays out of an estimated population of roughly 6,000,000 currently in the United States, or .05% of visa overstays – confirming that visa overstays are not treated as a deportable offense by this Administration.
The effect of the Administration’s noncompliance with visa laws is that the ‘temporary visa’ has become yet another vehicle for completely circumventing annual permanent immigration caps, with the departure date treated as entirely optional: if you overstay your visa, you will virtually never face deportation as a result. It is a backdoor program to massively expand the foreign-born population of the United States by transforming a temporary visa into a permanent one – circumventing the already very high green card caps.
Because several temporary visa programs are uncapped, this backdoor immigration program is therefore “uncapped” too.
To track visa overstays and enhance compliance with our immigration laws, Congress has required the implementation of an automated entry-exit tracking system since 1996, and that the system be biometrically-based since 2004. However, the exit component of the system – a recommendation of the 9/11 Commission – is still not in place today.
The Department acknowledged that there are no technological obstacles to implementing a biometric exit system yet the Department also confirmed that, over a decade after Congress required implementation of a biometric exit tracking system, it does not even have a goal date for implementation.
Thus, despite Congress recently providing hundreds of millions of dollars for a biometric system, it is clear that a biometric exit system will not be established at all ports of exit unless Congress takes further action to force compliance. Additionally, Congress must work to stiffen penalties for overstaying visas if it is to close this open border.