In a break from Obama administration policies, President Trump unveiled a national security doctrine which has a strong focus on reforming the immigration system.
“Strengthening control over our borders and immigration system is central to national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law,” declares the National Security Strategy released today.
Congress requires every administration lay out its guiding principles of foreign policy and national security doctrine.
“The United States affirms its sovereign right to determine who should enter our country and under what circumstances. The United States understands the contributions immigrants have made to our nation throughout its history. Illegal immigration, however, burdens the economy, hurts American workers, presents public safety risks, and enriches smugglers and other criminals,” the strategy asserts.
The National Security Strategy is centered on four vital national interests:
- Protect the homeland, the American people, and American way of life;
- Promote American prosperity;
- Preserve peace through strength; and
- Advance American influence.
Key to achieving the first pillar is to “strengthen control of our borders and reform our immigration system to protect the homeland and restore our sovereignty.”
As Congress has been unable to gain any movement and is presently focused on keeping the government open, the Trump administration has been moving ahead to keep the borders closed to terrorist threats.
A renewed push to heighten security efforts began after a pipe bomb was detonated near the New York subway attack in early December. As detailed by FAIR’s Elizabeth Jacobs, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Francis Cissna penned an calling for an end to chain migration and the visa lottery.
President Trump hit the nail on the head again in his recent weekly address by challenging to Congress to create a “merit-based immigration system” by moving on legislation to put an end to chain migration and the visa lottery.
On Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it was working with the State Department to strengthen the “national security and immigration enforcement elements” of the Visa Waiver Program (VSP).
The 38 countries whose citizens are currently permitted to travel to the US without a visa would be required to enhance their screening procedures and if their overstay rate exceeded 2 percent, that country would be mandated to launch public information campaigns to educate citizens. Failure to comply with the rules could lead to removal from the program.
Recognizing the growing threat posed by “an adaptive and agile enemy,” incoming DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen stated it is “critically important we stay ahead of these threats by improving our security posture. These enhancements will strengthen the program, and they are part of our continued efforts to raise the baseline for homeland security across the board.”
FAIR has highlighted how the visa waiver program represents a dangerous vulnerability in the nation’s security network.
Under the program, which permits stays of up to 90 days, about 20 million people annually travel to the US. The goal of the measures being considered by DHS and the State Department is to crack down on those who abuse the program by staying past the 90-day limit.
According to DHS data, in FY2016, there was a total overstay rate of 1.47 percent, or 739,478 individuals.
Friday’s announcement is an important step in fulfilling the president’s priority to protect the nation from all threats.
“As I discussed this week, making America safe starts with securing our borders, increasing interior immigration enforcement, protecting our communities, and dismantling transnational criminal organizations,” said Nielsen in an interview with The Washington Examiner.
She echoed Trump’s charge to Congress to adopt “legislation that closes the loopholes that incentivize illegal immigration, provides the funds needed to build the wall, and reforms the outdated immigration system.”
The Trump administration has met its obligation to lay out a plan to confront the immediate and future threats facing our nation. Now, it is time for Congress to fulfil its responsibility to pass the laws which empower our military and homeland security agents to finish the job.