Immigration agents apprehend a very tiny minority of the number of undocumented immigrants who arrive in the United States on US visas but then do not go back to their own countries when those visas expire, authorities confessed to Congress on Tuesday, admitting that it is a loophole being used by people all over the world to stay in the US illegally.
In 2015, a minimum of 480,000 people overstayed their US visas, adding yet more figures to a backlog that has now reached a total of around five million, according to members of Congress. Yet just 10,000 of them were investigated by immigration agents, barely 0.2 percent, and less than 2000 were actually arrested, below 0.04 percent, with the others not falling into the category of priority targets.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s assistant director of national security investigations, Craig Healy, attempted to defend the meager efforts made by the administration by saying that the agency makes use of the prioritization scheme together with their resources, blaming a lack of funding as well as a difficult environment where limited information given to authorities means that it takes months to work out if someone really has overstayed their US visa and is an offender worth spending time on.
Members of Congress believe that more needs to be done about the problem of people overstaying US visas, with Republican Representative Lamar Smith of Texas declaring that the Obama administration has lost sight of the issue, deporting barely one in 2500 in 2015.