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.

Evaluating Refugee Demographics Nationally and State-Wide: Part 2

Between 1975 and 2015, the United States admitted roughly 3.3 million refugees. The Obama Administration plans on adding 85,000 refugees to that figure in 2016, and 100,000 in 2017. Those numbers contribute to the roughly 1 million green cards the U.S. doles out annually, not to mention the approximate 12 million illegal aliens already here in the U.S. increasing the population.

Source: Department of State, Refugee Admissions by Region Fiscal Year 1975-2015, 2015.

Source: Department of State, Refugee Admissions by Region Fiscal Year 1975-2015, 2015.

States have received a varying number of refugees over the years. However, data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shows some states have received a far greater share than others. From 2012 to 2015: Texas, California New York, Michigan, Florida, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Ohio have received the most refugees. It’s no surprise then that all of these states made our list of Top 10 Receiving states in FY 2014.

Source: Department of Homeland Security & Office of Refugee Resettlement, Refugees & Asylees 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and Refugee Arrival Data 2014, 2016.

Source: Department of Homeland Security & Office of Refugee Resettlement, Refugees & Asylees 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and Refugee Arrival Data 2014, 2016.

In FY 2014, these top ten states accounted for 56 percent of all refugee placements within the nation. If you add in the next 10 states, the top 20 receiving states account for an astounding 82 percent of the total admission of refugees throughout the United States.

state ranking

Additionally, in FY 2014, a total of 69,986 refugees were admitted to the United States from 78 different countries in 2014. The top 10 refugee countries account for 95percent of all refugee admissions into the United States. These countries include: Iraq, Burma, Somalia, Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cuba, Iran, Eritrea, Sudan, and Afghanistan. The remaining 5% of refugees include refugees from 68 countries combined.

So how does this all break down? Let’s take a look at the top two receiving states for FY 2014: Texas and California


  • Texas received 10 percent of all refugees in FY 2014.
  • Nationally: Texas received the highest proportion of all Burmese (15%) and Eritrean (10%) refugees in FY 2014.

Statewide: 64 percent of all the refugees Texas received in 2014 were from two countries: Iraq and Burma.

Source: Office of Refugee Resettlement, “Refugee Arrival Data, FY 2014 Refugee Arrivals,” 2014.

Source: Office of Refugee Resettlement, “Refugee Arrival Data, FY 2014 Refugee Arrivals,” 2014.


  • California received 9 percent of all refugees in FY 2014.
  • Nationally: California received the highest proportion of Afghani (21%), Iranian (59%), and Iraqi (16%) refugees nationally.
  • Statewide: 77 percent of all refugees received in 2014 were from two countries: Iraq and Burma.
Source: Office of Refugee Resettlement, “Refugee Arrival Data, FY 2014 Refugee Arrivals,” 2014.

Source: Office of Refugee Resettlement, “Refugee Arrival Data, FY 2014 Refugee Arrivals,” 2014.

To see how your state ranks click here. Please note that Delaware, Montana, and Wyoming did not receive any refugees, thus they are not included.

Recommended Reading: Evaluating Refugee Demographics Nationally and State-wide: Part 1

Senator Delph Introduces “Three-Strike” E-Verify Bill

delphOn January 7, Indiana State Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) introduced Senate Bill 285, legislation to require employers to use E-Verify to verify the employment eligibility of new hires.

Under the bill, in addition to having to terminate their unlawful workforce, employers who knowingly hire an alien who is not authorized to work in the United States would face civil consequences.  First and second time offenders would be placed on a type of probation, being required to file quarterly reports with the state attorney general’s office concerning the work eligibility of their new hires.  The probationary period would last three years for first time offenders, and 10 years for second time offenders.

Third time offenders may have their doors shuttered.  The bill provides that if an employer is found to have employed an unauthorized alien for a third time, then a court may order their business license(s) to be revoked for an indeterminate period of time, possibly permanently.

Importantly, employers who use the E-Verify program would be given a safe-harbor under the bill, shielding them from any consequences by recognizing that employers who do the right thing by using the program would not have reason to believe their employees are not authorized to work.

As expected, the Chamber of Commerce is opposing the measure.  “We vehemently oppose it,” said Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “We think the punishment is too stringent for the crime.”  Defending his legislation, Senator Delph said, “[I]t’s the right consequence…We need to root out this shadow world that exists where people think they’re coming into American freedom but really live in modern day American slavery.”

Beyond exploiting individuals, employers that hire illegal aliens take job opportunities away from Americans and depress wages.  More than a quarter of states have some form of E-Verify law on the books, and according to a 2014 survey of E-Verify users, nearly all believe it to be effective (92%) and highly accurate (89%).

You can read more about the importance of E-Verify here.


Anti-Sanctuary City Bill Back on Wisconsin Agenda

d8c4da6b85fa8c4470d42328d1b543d5True immigration reformers in Wisconsin will take another stab at getting anti-sanctuary city legislation through the Assembly next month when lawmakers hold a hearing on Assembly Bill 450 (AB 450)

AB 450 prohibits jurisdictions in the State of Wisconsin from enacting an ordinance or policy that prevents employees from inquiring about the immigration status of a lawfully detained or arrested individual, or otherwise cooperating with federal immigration officials.   If a jurisdiction violates AB 450, a court may not only require it to comply, the Department of Revenue is required to revoke $500-$5,000 per day from the jurisdiction’s shared revenue fund (depending on the population of the jurisdiction).

The bill will be heard before the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs on January 20, 2016 at 10 AM in Room 412E of the State Capitol.  It was initially to be heard on December 15, but was pulled allegedly due to opposition to the bill from the pro-amnesty lobby.

Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield), the bill’s sponsor, contends that it was pulled from the calendar not because of complaints by the pro-amnesty lobby, but because they simply needed a larger committee room.  He also states that the opposition is mischaracterizing the bill.  “What people are saying this bill does, it doesn’t do,” Spiros said. “It’s not there to get rid of illegal aliens.  It’s really those who commit a crime.”

The Milwaukee-based pro-amnesty group, Voces de la Frontera, however, has been lobbying hard against it.  Implying litigation against AB 450 is inevitable if it passes, Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the executive director of Voces de la Frontera said, “[AB 450] opens up this can of worms — you’ll have local municipalities dealing with lawsuits when they have more important work to do.”

Regardless of the true reason AB 450 was pulled and put back on the Committee on Urban and Local Affairs’ calendar, the entire song and dance underscores the need for true immigration reformers to remain ever-vigilant.  Generally, bills cannot pass a legislative chamber without first going through the committee process by receiving a hearing.  Staying informed and making sure that state lawmakers hear your praise or concerns about a piece of legislation – even if it’s only in such early stages – is critical to this process.

Criminal Aliens Endanger Public Safety

CriminalAlienGraphic1October 1st marked the three month anniversary since Kate Steinle was tragically shot and killed in San Francisco by Francisco Sanchez, an illegal alien with seven convictions and five previous deportations. Ms. Steinle’s death finally brought national attention to the clear danger that sanctuary cities—State and local jurisdictions with policies that obstruct immigration enforcement—pose to Americans. Sadly, Congress has failed to act and Americans continue to unnecessarily lose their lives at the hands of criminal illegal aliens.

To bring attention to this serious problem, FAIR is running a social media campaign this week to emphasize the issue. Check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter as we publish a different infographic each day on criminal illegal aliens.