Background From The Subcommittee On Immigration And The National Interest:
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in FY 2015, 482,781 aliens who entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visitor visa (for a specified period of time) for business or pleasure, or through the Visa Waiver Program, overstayed their period of lawful admission. Notably, this statistic does not include overstays from other visa categories, nor does it include overstays who entered the United States through land ports of entry – such as Mexican nationals who use Border Crossing Cards. According to information U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently provided to the Subcommittee, ICE removed only 2,456 visa overstays from the United States during this same period – less than one percent of the number of aliens who overstayed their visas in FY 2015 alone.
Since FY 2009, ICE has managed to remove only 51,704 visa overstays from the United States. And the number removed has decreased significantly each year – with ICE removing 12,538 in FY 2009, 11,259 in FY 2010, 10,426 in FY 2011, 6,856 in FY 2012, 4,240 in FY 2013, 3,564 in FY 2014, and 2,456 in FY 2015. This number will likely decrease more in the future, as the Obama Administration’s removal policies exclude nearly all visa overstays from any enforcement activities.
The decision by the Obama Administration not to enforce immigration law by allowing those who have overstayed their visas to remain in the country has not gone unnoticed by the American people. A Rasmussen Reports poll released earlier this year indicates that approximately 3 out of 4 Americans not only want the Obama Administration to find these aliens who overstay their visas, but also to deport them. The same poll indicates that 68 percent of Americans consider visa overstays a “serious national security risk,” and 31 percent consider visa overstays a “very serious” national security risk.
Recognizing the fact that visa overstays undermine the integrity of our immigration system, and pose considerable national security risks, Congress has required the implementation of an entry-exit tracking system for nearly twenty years – and has mandated that the system be biometrically based since 2004. Indeed, the former Commissioners on the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission) highlighted the importance of the system in areport issued in 2014, stating that “[w]ithout exit-tracking, our government does not know when a foreign visitor admitted to the United States on a temporary basis has overstayed his or her admission. Had this system been in place before 9/11, we would have had a better chance of detecting the plotters before they struck.” Subcommittee Chairman Sessions recently offered an amendment that would have facilitated the implementation of this system, but a vote was blocked by a Democrat objection.