The Department of Homeland Security released a report on Tuesday, which claimed that out of the nearly 45 million foreigners who legally entered the United States in 2015, nearly half a million stayed after their visas expired.
In the “Entry/Exit Overstay” report, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson noted that out of the 44,928,381 non-immigrant admissions to the United States for business or pleasure, who were expected to depart in 2015, at least 527,127 of the indivuduals overstayed their visas.
By the end of the 2015 fiscal year, which ranged from Oct. 1, 2014 to Sept. 30, 2015, the report claimed that the number of “Suspected In-Country Overstays” was at 482,781. The number was then lowered to 416,500 by DHS as of Jan. 4, 2016.
Johnson noted that properly “determining lawful status is more complicated than simply matching entry and exit data,” because an individual may apply for and receive a visa extension while still in the U.S.
Jeffrey Passel, senior demographer at the Pew Research Center, described the report as a step in the right direction. “We’re starting to get a better picture of how people flow through the immigration system with this report,” he said. “But, it’s incomplete.”
When breaking down the number of individuals who overstayed their visas in 2015, the report found that some of the largest numbers were from countries including Germany with 21,394, Italy with 17,661 and France with 11,973.
However, the report also found that out of the “Suspected In-Country Overstays,” 219 were from Afghanistan, 681 from Iraq, 56 from Libya, 1,435 from Pakistan, 440 from Syria, and 219 from Yemen— all countries where the U.S. has conducted drone strikes during the Obama administration.
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The Senate Immigration Subcommittee has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday to discuss and investigate the report. In a statement, the committee expressed concern about President Obama’s policies contributing to the number of “Suspected In-Country Overstays.”
“By not enforcing visa overstays, the administration has flung the border open—millions get temp visas and then freely violate their entry contracts and shred their eviction notices,” the statement said. “Further, DHS has refused to complete the legally required biometric tracking system.”
According to the report, DHS classifies visa overstay issues as “important for national security, public safety, immigration enforcement, and immigration benefit application processing.”