Trump Memorandum on Heightened Screening

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recently released a summary of President Trump's "Presidential Memorandum on Implementing Immediate Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and Other Immigration Benefits." (AILA Doc. No. 17031307, 3/13/2017).

On March 6, 2017, President Trump signed an Executive Order, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." The order went into effect on March 16, 2017 and revoked the previous order from January 27, 2017, by the same name. Additionally, a Presidential Memorandum was released on March 6, 2017. The memorandum calls for immediate increased vetting procedures, though these procedures are already in place. It also directs executive agencies to enforce rigorously and monitor compliance in regards to all existing related laws. The memorandum directed that exceptions should not be made for even minor, technical violations. Therefore, the time and resources put into this increased vetting will likely slow the system and decrease efficiency.

Summary of the Memorandum

Section 1: Policy

  • The nation's policy to keep citizens safe from terrorist attacks is what led President Trump to issue his March 6, 2017 Executive Order.
  • The government cannot delay immediate implementation of heightened vetting.

Section 2: Enhanced Vetting

  • The Department of State (DOS) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will implement procedures as soon as they can. These procedures will focus on preventing entry of foreign nationals who may support or commit terrorist attacks and will also focus on ensuring proper collection of information for all grounds of inadmissibility and deportability.

Section 3: Enforcement of All Laws for Entry

  • Executive agencies are directed to "rigorously enforce" all grounds of inadmissibility.
  • These agencies may issue new rules or guidance in order to enforce those grounds.

Section 4: Transparency and Data Collection

  • DOS and DHS will issue reports regularly on immigration benefits.
    • Number of visas issues by each consular office during the prior month,
    • Number of adjustments of status,
    • Long-term costs of the U.S. Refugee Admission Program, and recommendations on how to reduce costs, and
    • Estimate of how many refugees are being supported in "countries of first asylum for the same long-term cost as supporting refugees in the U.S."