Huge Number of Visitor Overstays in 2015

Only 3% of ICE enforcement resources are dedicated to addressing overstays

Jan 20, 2016, 11:02 ET from Center for Immigration Studies

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A long-awaited report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), confirming that overstays are a significant source of illegal immigration, has been published just in time to provide clarity on the issue for a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today. The Center for Immigration Studies analysis of the DHS report concludes that additional resources must be directed toward deterring and removing overstays.

Jessica Vaughan, the Center's Director of Policy Studies, says, "Lawmakers and the public should be tremendously concerned that DHS identified more than 400,000 foreign visitors who did not depart in 2015 as required and who apparently have joined the huge population of illegal aliens in the United States. More than 12,000 came from countries associated with terrorism. Clearly, our immigration controls are not sufficient to protect Americans. These scofflaws are encouraged by the Obama administration's appalling neglect of interior enforcement and overly generous visa policies."

The report identified just over 527,000 foreign visitors who apparently did not depart as required when their authorized stay expired in 2015. Approximately 484,000 were presumed to be still in the United States at the end of 2015, and 416,500 had not departed as of January 4, 2016.

The Center's analysis, with a link to the complete DHS report, is at: http://www.cis.org/vaughan/dhs-reports-huge-number-visitors-overstayed-2015

Of these overstaying visitors, 43 percent had entered on a business or tourist visa, 29 percent had entered under the controversial Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and 28 percent had entered by air or sea from Canada or Mexico.

DHS did not examine the records of visitors who entered by land, which is more than three-quarters of all admissions to the United States. Nor did it track the records of visitors granted visas for purposes other than business or pleasure, such as students, guest workers, or exchange visitors. These categories represent a smaller share of all annual arrivals, but still account for several million admissions per year. Some of these categories have been found to have significant overstay and status violation rates in the past, and have been exploited by terrorists.

Despite a total estimated population of 4 to 5.5 million overstays in the United States, only about 8,000 are removed annually.

DHS has long sought to suppress this overstay information. It was released now only because the omnibus spending bill passed in December included a provision withholding $13 million from the DHS Secretary's office if the report was not released to Congress by January 19. Without that threat we would not have this information today.

The Senate immigration subcommittee hearing asking "Why is the Biometric Exit Tracking System Still Not in Place?" takes place at 2:30 p.m. today: http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/why-is-the-biometric-exit-tracking-system-still-not-in-place.

The Center for Immigration Studies is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research organization founded in 1985. It is the nation's only think tank devoted exclusively to research and policy analysis of the economic, social, demographic, fiscal, and other impacts of immigration on the United States

CONTACT: Marguerite Telford
202-466-8186, mrt@cis.org

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SOURCE Center for Immigration Studies



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