The Department of Homeland Security issued a report on Monday, indicating that nearly 740,000 of the foreigners who legally entered the US, overstayed their visas and continued to live in the country even at the end of 2016.
The number of people who overstayed their visas, a total of 739,478, amount to a meagre 1.47 percent of the 50 million who visited the US through airports and seaports, and were supposed to leave last year, according to the DHS report. The report does not include those who arrived in the US through a vehicular or ground point of entry.
According to the latest numbers, foreigners choosing to overstay their visas in the US, make up almost half of the country’s illegal population, which is estimated to be somewhere near 11 million people.
Senator Marco Rubi (R-Fla.), during his presidential campaign, raised the issue of visa overstays. He told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” back in 2015: “We have a porous border, meaning not just the border with Mexico, but 40 percent of people in this country, illegally, are overstaying visas.”
The DHS began collecting data on visa overstays in 2015, making yesterday’s release the department’s second report on the issue. The federal agency said in its latest report that it maintains a database of departure and arrival information for all visitors to the US, and sends an updated list of individuals who overstay their visas to the Customs and Border Protection agency, daily. The CBP is tasked with enforcing the US’ immigration laws.
“Identifying overstays is important for national security, public safety, immigration enforcement, and processing applications for immigration benefits,” the new report said. “[D]HS will continue to annually and publicly release this overstay data, and looks forward to providing updates to congressional members and their staff on its ongoing progress.”
Almost 416,500 of the estimated 45 million foreigners in the US whose visas expired in 2015, overstayed in the country illegally. However, because the DHS changed the visa categories it previously used to calculate the number of expired visa holders still in the country, the total number of overstays cannot be compared with the previous year.