DHS admits it's not deporting most visa overstays

A pair of Department of Homeland Security officials told the Senate Wednesday that the government does not search for most of the people who overstay their temporary visas, a day after DHS said that nearly 500,000 people were still in the U.S. after having overstayed their visas last year.

"I didn't mean to imply that we're actually out monitoring them," Craig Healy, an assistant director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., during Senate Judiciary subcommittee panel. Healy said that they review the universe of people who overstayed their visas and "prioritize" the deportation of people who went on to commit other crimes.

Their exchange came at the outset of a hearing on the federal government's failure to implement a biometric system to track entries into and exits from the country, as required by a 2004 law. A Customs and Border Patrol official said the program couldn't be implemented without causing "gridlock" at U.S. airports, a response that failed to allay bipartisan concern that the lack of this system is an ongoing national security threat.

"The biometric exit system is still not off the ground and that is unfortunate, very unfortunate, because it is a matter of national security," New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader-in-waiting, said during the hearing.

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