WASHINGTON, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. arrested less than 1 percent of foreign visitors who overstayed their visas in 2015, due to inefficient technology support, found a newly-released government audit report.
The report, released by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), found that only 3,402 of an estimated 527,127 nonimmigrant visa overstays in 2015 were caught.
The main reason for this is officers of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have to use 27 different DHS computer systems to track visa overstays and make arrests.
Due to lack of integration and information sharing, the systems' data is often incomplete, leading to false reports that people are still in the country when they have in fact left, or that they have left the country when they are still present.
ICE officers often waste time on tracking down these false reports in an attempt to determine a visa holder's status and whether that person poses a national security threat, the report said.
Two of the hijackers that launched the terror attack on Sept. 11, 2001 were visa overstays, which prompted the 9/11 Commission to make the federal government track all visitors in and out of the U.S.
The inefficient process has contributed to a backlog of more than 1.2 million visa overstay cases so far, the report said.
Further complicating ICE's efforts to track visa overstays is DHS' lack of a comprehensive biometric exit system at U.S. ports of departure to capture information on nonimmigrant visitors who exit the U.S., the report said
"ICE must equip its personnel with the tools and training they require for the vital work of tracking visitors who overstay their visas," said DHS Inspector General John Roth in a press release.
"Timely identification, tracking, and adjudication of potential visa overstays is critical to ICE's public safety and national security mission," Roth added.