Homeland Security Loses Track of 1 Million Foreigners; Report Could Hurt Immigration Deal

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, July 30, 2013

The Homeland Security Department has lost track of more than 1 million people who it knows arrived in the U.S. but who it cannot prove left the country, according to an audit Tuesday that also found the department probably won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system.

The findings were revealed as Congress debates an immigration bill, and the Government Accountability Office’s report could throw up another hurdle because lawmakers in the House and Senate have said that any final deal must include a workable system to track entries and exits and cut down on so-called visa overstays.

The government does track arrivals, but is years overdue in setting up a system to track departures—a goal set in a 1996 immigration law and reaffirmed in 2004, but which has eluded Republican and Democratic administrations.

“DHS has not yet fulfilled the 2004 statutory requirement to implement a biometric exit capability, but has planning efforts under way to report to Congress in time for the fiscal year 2016 budget cycle on the costs and benefits of such a capability at airports and seaports,” GAO investigators wrote.

Outside business groups and Republican donors are trying to breathe life into the push for getting an immigration bill through Congress this year.

Nearly 100 top donors and former party officials signed a letter Tuesday pleading with House Republicans to pass a bill legalizing illegal immigrants, saying it could open the door to earning immigrants’ political support.


The donor letter was sent the same day that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 400 other businesses and umbrella groups fired off a letter to House leaders of both parties, urging them to pass something—though the business leaders did not specifically call for legalizing illegal immigrants.


Under current law, the government is supposed to be developing a system to check every visitor’s entry and departure from the country, using biometric identifiers such as fingerprints. The system is supposed to apply to air, land and sea ports of entry.

But members of both parties have said that is a giant task. The Senate bill waters down those requirements, saying only that there must be a biographic-based system, which means using a photo, and that it be limited to air and sea ports.

The GAO said most of the overstays came by airplane, but 32 percent came through land ports of entry, and 4 percent came by sea. The average length of overstay was 2.7 years.

The Congressional Budget Office, which analyzed the Senate bill, said it will cut out about half of all illegal immigration. CBO said stiffer border security will limit those crossing the border illegally but that the system would boost the chances for illegal immigrants to come to the U.S. under new guest-worker programs and stay beyond their visas.

The executive branch is supposed to report annually to Congress on how many people have overstayed their visas but has failed to do so for the past two decades, saying the information isn’t reliable enough.


The total of 1 million potential overstays in the country is an improvement from two years ago, when the GAO found Homeland Security had lost track of 1.6 million people.



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  • Puggg

    Anything which kills this bill is fine by me. But it should not have had to take this, politicians should have rejected out for its demerits and out of a sense of racial patriotism alone.

    I know, I know, rainbows and kittens and childhood cancer.

    • Ngati Pakeha

      I was thinking Puggg – they could find 50% of them tending the gardens & houses of the 1%!

      • Puggg

        The other 50% they can find on the roofs of the 1%.

  • They recently found one who was throwing poop and paint on national monuments. Only 999,999 left to go.

    • Spartacus

      “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step” – Saying from the poo-thrower’s homeland .

  • David Ashton

    I am not engaging in tit-for-tat against US critics of us Brits – I am genuinely surprised that your situation is nearly as bad as ours in this island fortess, built by nature ‘gainst infection and the hand o’war.

    • Sick of it

      When we enforced our laws and secured our border, no one could touch us.

  • Dave4088

    Big surprise, although the government is probably tracking the whereabouts and every computer keystroke of every supposedly racist and anti-semitic white person by the minute. And if they aren’t then domestic spy and dirty trick organizations like SPLC and ADL probably are.

    • willbest

      Well sure, because raciss white people are a threat to government, the illegals are just here for the buffet and a bit of sport.

    • Sick of it

      They’re looking at the internet activity of everyone in America, thanks to the XKeyscore program.

      • Puggg

        That said, since they’re watching us, give them something worth watching.

        Teach them. Teach them well. Hungry minds are watching your every keystroke.

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        Then we all must use TOR immediately.

        www dot torproject dot org

        • Sick of it

          The NSA gets its information straight from ISPs. It will take something more sophisticated than TOR.

  • I’m sure when Sheila Jackson Lee replaces Janet Napolitano as the Secretary of Homeland Security, everything will be taken care of.

    • Puggg

      But at least it will be entertaining.

      • ms_anthro


  • GeneticsareDestiny

    “The executive branch is supposed to report annually to Congress on how many people have overstayed their visas but has failed to do so for the past two decades, saying the information isn’t reliable enough.”

    Your tax dollars at work.

  • bigone4u

    Because of affirmative action employees, the Federal government becomes more like Detroit with each passing year. A government that can’t fix the potholes on the Interstate highways won’t be able to keep track of a million illegals “living in the shadows.”

  • kjh64

    It’s amazing that the government can photograph every piece of mail in the US but can’t keep track of any illegal migrants or do anything about illegal migration.

    • They can’t photograph every piece of mail. I once received lots of junk solicitations that I mark “REFUSED” and put back in the mailbox for the post office to process all over again. I’ve been doing this long enough that the junk mail is starting to dry up. Is USPS going to photo every bit of advertisement twice?

      • Does this “REFUSED” work?

        • It works. One of the big offenders was Comcast, but we haven’t received anything from them in about two years. My understanding is that if someone refuses enough mail from a given sender, the USPS eventually tells them to stop sending the garbage to that address. An added benefit is that in the meantime, you’ve got the post office doing extra work.

  • MekongDelta69

    Ahh – don’t worry. Our ‘trusty’ NSA will find and deport them…

  • Luca

    if they really wanted to find these 1 million overstayed visa holders just report them to the IRS as owing back taxes. The IRS seems to have no trouble finding 130 million taxpayers each year.

    • Unfortunately, existing law forbids the use of tax information for any other law-enforcement purpose.

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        Since when has existing law ever stopped the government from doing anything it wants? Laws are for kulaks.

  • Spartacus

    Did they look under the fridge ?

  • Romulus

    They lost track of all those guns too!! A giant task?! Rrriiiiiigghht! You can’t breathe unamerican without being tracked,spyed on, or on camera, and we’re supposed to believe that they can’t track departures! Baloney!
    Same BS with the voting rights acts change that holder was posses off about. Try to frame the issues as minority disenfranchisement as opposed to voter fraud. The end game of course is more socialist votes!

  • The same government that loses track of billions of dollars also loses track of a million people? I’m so surprised.

    Meanwhile…back to the “shadows” (i.e. agitating out in the open, blocking traffic and collecting welfare) for them.

  • Bon, From the Land of Babble

    One has been caught recently!! — that means only 999,999 to go.

    Prosecutors say the woman charged with defacing the Washington National Cathedral, has a Chinese passport, arrived in Washington a few days ago and was traveling on an expired visa. Police said she had no fixed address but that she told officers she lived in Los Angeles.

    Don’t worry.

    When Sheila Jackson Lee becomes head of DHS, all of this will be straightened out!!


    • No fixed address, no job, no English… where was she staying, and who provided her the travel money to get from Los Angeles to Washington DC?

    • Bossman

      I think the woman is very intelligent. She talks very well, is truthful and sincere.

      • Bon, From the Land of Babble

        Jiamei Tian expressed herself “truthfully and intelligently” by throwing green pain mixed with feces on American National Historic Monuments: in the Bethlehem and Children’s chapels of the National Cathedral, on a statue of American science pioneer Joseph Henry across from the Smithsonian Castle, and on the iconic seated statue of Abraham Lincoln.

        She “talks” so well, the government had to dig up a translator.

        I see to you defacing iconic American Monuments with feces means she is “sincere and intelligent.”

        Well, that is what a SOCIOPATH or PSYCHOPATH would say.

        Which one are you?


        • Bossman

          Didn’t you see the indentation? My comment was about congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

      • QuinnTheEskimo9

        Are you referring to Sheila Jackson Lee as “very intelligent?”

        The jokes write themselves about this entitlement-minded, dumb as a box of rocks black legislature. I never pass up a chance to point out what this idiot is doing and saying, because I know the press won’t, unless it’s a Republican, i.e. Dan Quayle misspelling “potato” as “potatoe.” We are still hearing about that one years and years later.

        Jackson Lee is the one who demanded to be driven back and forth in a government car one block between her office and apartment, yelling at her driver, “You don’t understand. I am a queen, and I demand to be treated like a queen!” She sure sounded “sincere” at the time.

        Maybe this is what you mean by “truthful” and “talking” well when Jackson Lee said, “I stand here as a freed slave because this Congress came together. Are we going to be able to do it today to free America?”

  • A million missing mexicans, where do they all come from ….

  • Bossman

    The technology to keep track of millions who are coming and going is very difficult to implement in an effective way. It would be very costly and not very effective.

    • mobilebay

      If we can’t keep track of who’s coming into this country, then by all means, let’s stop all immigration. Better safe than sorry. And this would have an extra benefit by stopping job competition for Americans as well as a host of other problems that come with today’s idea of immigration.

      • Bossman

        Tourism is a billion dollar industry. People enter the USA every day for all kinds of reasons. Some stay longer than they’re supposed to.

  • QuinnTheEskimo9

    This is the same government that wants to round up all our guns but can’t find illegal aliens hiding in plain sight.

  • mobilebay

    Hey, Jonny, I think they’re all here in Texas.

  • Bossman

    I’m referring to congress woman Sheila Jackson Lee and not the illegal Chinese person.

  • Gereng

    Would you believe that my last job in Africa was in Somalia, when Siad Barre was still in charge. I had to report to immigration every three months and renew my work visa. I worked in 13 underdeveloped countries in NONE of them were the authorities as lax, forgiving and incompetent as they are in the US.