Removals of Foreign Nationals Who Overstay Visas Plummet Under Obama Administration

Removals of visa overstayers have plummeted under the Obama administration according to a House Republican who raised the issue with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials at a congressional hearing last week.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), relying on data obtained by the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, said the Obama administration removed approximately 12,500 visa overstayers in 2009. Last year, that number dropped down to less than 2,500 – a decrease of 80 percent.

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visa_overstay_removals3The Texas Republican estimated that removals of visa overstayers last year represented only one-twentieth of one percent of the estimated five million people who overstayed their visas and remain in the country illegally.

“We’ve heard estimates as to the percentage of people who are here illegally as being visa overstayers,” Smith said. “The percentages range from 40 percent to 68 percent. Let’s take 50 percent. Let’s take 10 million people in the country illegally, half are here because of visa overstayers and are in illegal status.”

He continued, “You’ve got five million people now in illegal status because they’re visa overstayers. The administration [removed] 2,500 of those. That’s one-twentieth of one percent. That sounds to me like an extension of the administration’s amnesty program.”

“We utilize our prioritization scheme along with the resources that we have,” Craig Healy, Assistant Director for National Security Investigations at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said as he attempted to defend the administration’s non-enforcement agenda.

However, Smith was not satisfied by Healy’s explanation, pointing out that if the administration wanted to enforce the law against those who overstay their visas, then they would have asked for more money in their budget requests.

“I understand that, but the administration stands convicted by their own actions by the facts, why haven’t they requested more money in their budget if they wanted to send more individuals home?” he asked, “They have not requested the money sufficiently to do so.”

The administration’s unwillingness to enforce the law by allowing visa overstayers to remain in the country illegally has alarmed the American people. A poll released earlier this year indicates that approximately 3 out of 4 Americans want to remove those who overstay their visas. The same poll indicates that 68 percent of Americans consider visa overstayers a “serious national security risk.” These concerns are not unfounded, as several 9/11 hijackers overstayed their visas and terror groups around the world have recently threatened to exploit the U.S. visa program to harm Americans.

When immigration changes are proposed within the context of national security, the debate usually revolves around the issue of border control. However, gaining control over our borders deals with only part of the illegal immigration problem because it obscures the issue of the overstayers. Both Congress and the federal government must recognize that visa overstayers pose considerable national security risks and move swiftly to ensure implementation of the entry-exit tracking system that was mandated by Congress nearly twenty years ago. Until then, the administration should abandon its narrow removal priorities that exclude nearly all visa overstayers from any type of enforcement.

avatar About RJ Hauman

RJ Hauman joined FAIR in 2015, bringing valuable legislative, regulatory, and political experience to the Government Relations department. He is responsible for reviewing and analyzing legislation and regulations, as well as building and maintaining relationships with Capitol Hill staff. During his time on Capitol Hill, RJ gained immigration policy experience as an aide to former Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA), who chaired the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Immigration Policy and Enforcement. RJ holds a B.A. in Political Science from Clemson University.

Comments

  1. avatar No Change says:

    RJ if you want to report smart articles you must back up the one about against all prior presidents besides It is not the job of a president to remove overstays……blame the accountable parties..is this responsible media?

    • avatar Leland says:

      Mom let you near the computer again?

    • avatar No Change says:

      RJ the point is you are smarter than these guys in here and if you put a small part of thief there…..not most presidents and they believe it…….then you r article is as good as that…you should inform and educate not make part articles that sheep follow…that is all….a straight and honest feedback.

      • avatar No Change says:

        thief there = of the article real info….reagan, clinton the bushes, Nixon, Carter, etc etc etc

  2. avatar DSchaer says:

    Obama’s 2,500 deportations are nullified by the refugees he is bringing in. One million – and that’s what he will admit to allowing in the country.

  3. VISA Overstays

    Are the Obama Rule, not the exception….

  4. avatar Tori says:

    Obama has deported more immigrants than any other president. Google it.

    • avatar Leland says:

      Google this. Here’s him in October 2011:

      “The numbers are actually deceptive. We’ve been apprehending folks at the border and sending them back. That is counted as a deportation even though they may have only been held for a day or 48 hours.”

      Those numbers were not counted as deportations previously. Everyone pretty much recognizes deportations as people removed from the interior of the country. Those numbers are way way down. The reason they put out those “deceptive” numbers is for lemmings like you who want to contend he’s doing something when he’s doing the opposite.

      But you’re not alone. Most of the media repeats this lie. If you can contest the figures here, then let’s hear it. But you can’t. You’d rather keep repeating the propaganda. 2,500 people deported out of 5 million visa overstays is all but meaningless.

      • avatar Tori says:

        I’m not sure why you are calling me a “lemming” during an intellectual discussion?

      • avatar Tori says:

        I’m actually not for deportation, so that makes me feel better. Thank you!

        • avatar Leland says:

          I’m sure you’re “not for deportation”. I’m sure the law is meaningless to you. As for being a lemming, you just prove it by saying that. If you’re not for deportation, then you are endorsing open borders. If not, explain to me the difference. As for an intellectual discussion, one presumably needs facts, not just repeat what one is “told”.

          • avatar No Change says:

            Leland wake up and smell the coffee and the same for this article.!!!1

            Obama’s administration so far is the best!!! No prior administration EVER removed anybody YET you all idiots go against the man like sheep without any personalities

        • avatar Scott says:

          So tori, you are an illegal!? Is that why you are not for deportation?

        • avatar Peter says:

          Tori these people are useless and no longer active and able to contribute as Society. You said it right…but they r in denial….. pitiful.

      • avatar gail says:

        You see the facts and discount them. He has not deported more than an other. There is another who started a deportation task force who deported way more. They swept the country and many illegals ended up leaving on their own when they realized this task force wasn’t giving up. You want to Google everything. Go to a library and read a book!

        • avatar Peter says:

          Yiu missed the point…… compare Obama with other presidents…that is a Fair comparison…..all of you are just pitiful….

  5. avatar Kyle says:

    Is it any surprise with the current POS in the White House, or his DUNG HEAP of an administration he’s appointed to CHUA?

  6. avatar Leland says:

    One of the first things that needs to be done is e-verify for every job and a lot will leave. How come the Republican Congress doesn’t have a bill going? Almost 2 years after they said put us in charge and we will do something, they have done nothing but talk more b.s. Wonder why the Republican primary voters told the national party and their anointed candidates like Jeb and Rubio to take a hike? Because they decided not to get played for fools again. You know, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

    It’s sort of telling that Trump is having trouble raising money and Hillary isn’t. Sort of tells you who is the big business candidate. She’s been a big supporter in the past of the trade deals that have brought trade deficits and lost jobs. He has opposed them. She only came out against the TPP deal because Bernie forced her to. She also favors the wide open immigration big business wants. Business, and the never-enough military contractors, have no problem with her.