Temporary Visitors to US at All-Time High, Nobody’s Keeping Track of Them

Alissa Tabirian, CNS News, September 4, 2013

Visas for temporary visitors entering the United States have increased 61 percent since 1992, according to data released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). But the federal government has no way to make sure they leave when their visas expire.

Out of 165 million non-immigrant admissions to the U.S. last year, 53.9 million were “temporary visitors for business and pleasure,” according to the Office of Immigration Statistics’ 2012 Annual Flow Report. In 1992, this number was 20.9 million, marking a 61 percent increase in temporary admissions over the past 21 years.

In 2012, 78 percent of non-immigrant admissions were foreigners who came to the U.S. as tourists, up from 76.4 percent in 2011 and 75.6 percent in 2010, according to the report.

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Most of the visas issued in 2012 to temporary visitors, workers, and students went to visitors from Mexico (31 percent), the United Kingdom (8.3 percent), and Japan (7.7 percent), the “leading countries of citizenship for I-94 admissions.”

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CNSNews previously reported that the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the Senate immigration bill passed in June, which would put illegal aliens on a pathway to citizenship, would also “allow the flow of new illegal aliens into the United States to continue at a rate equal to 75 percent of the current rate of illegal immigration,” partly “because of people who overstay temporary work visas that will be authorized by the bill.”

A House hearing in June revealed that the U.S. Border Patrol does not have an exit program to track individuals leaving the U.S., and thus cannot track visa overstays. Approximately “40 percent of the 11 million or more illegal aliens living in the United States entered the country legally with a visa but overstayed the date for departure.”

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