Eric Ruark's picture


  by  Eric Ruark

The National Security Strategy (NSS) is required from the executive branch each year by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986. This requirement has not been strictly observed by Presidents, or strictly enforced by Congress. Barack Obama and George Bush only issued two NSS documents during each their terms.

President Trump has issued a NSS in the first year of his term, and he gave a speech outlining his strategy on December 18, 2017. Notable was his emphasis on the importance of border security, interior enforcement, proper vetting, and an end to chain migration, reinforcing strong positions he has taken on these issues in recent months.

References to immigration have surfaced in past NSS documents. In 2010, President Obama called for “Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” which eventually resulted in his support for the Gang of Eight Bill in 2013 that would have granted amnesty to at least 12 million illegal aliens, and doubled both annual admissions of immigrants and guest workers. After that legislation failed to pass Congress, with Majority Leader Harry Reid refusing to send it to the House for a vote, President Obama reiterated in his 2015 NSS that “Immigration reform that combines smart and effective enforcement of the law with a pathway to citizenship for those who earn it remains an imperative.”

In 2006, President Bush made a passing reference in his NSS to the need to work with Latin American countries to reduce illegal immigration.

What differentiates President Trump’s NSS is the amount of attention paid to immigration policy. Instead of a throw-away political line buried somewhere in the document, the White House devotes several subsections entirely to immigration related issues.

Under “Strengthen Border Control and Immigration Policy” The Administration writes:

Strengthening control over our borders and immigration system is central to national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law…The United States recognizes that decisions about who to legally admit for residency, citizenship, or otherwise are among the most important a country has to make. The United States will continue to welcome lawful immigrants who do not pose a security threat and whose entry is consistent with the national interest, while at the same time enhancing the screening and vetting of travelers, closing dangerous loopholes, revising outdated laws, and eliminating easily exploited vulnerabilities. We will also reform our current immigration system, which, contrary to our national interest and national security, allows for randomized entry and extended-family chain migration. Residency and citizenship determinations should be based on individuals’ merits and their ability to positively contribute to U.S. society, rather than chance or extended family connections.

Listed as priority actions designed to help achieve the above goals, the Administration included the following:


We will secure our borders through the construction of a border wall, the use of multilayered defenses and advanced technology, the employment of additional personnel, and other measures. The U.S. Government will work with foreign partners to deter, detect, and disrupt suspicious individuals well before they enter the United States.


The U.S. Government will enhance vetting of prospective immigrants, refugees, and other foreign visitors to identify individuals who might pose a risk to national security or public safety. We will set higher security standards to ensure that we keep dangerous people out of the United States and enhance our information collection and analysis to identify
those who may already be within our borders.


We will enforce immigration laws, both at the border and in the interior, to provide an effective deterrent to illegal immigration. The apprehension and swift removal of illegal aliens at the border is critical to an effective border security strategy. We must also increase efforts to identify and counter fraud in the immigration process, which undermines the integrity of our immigration system, exploits vulnerable individuals, and creates national security risks.

The White House also addressed the vulnerabilities that exist in the F-1 student visa program, and by extension, the OPT and H-1B programs.

The United States will review visa procedures to reduce economic theft by non-traditional intelligence collectors. We will consider restrictions on foreign STEM students from designated countries to ensure that intellectual property is not transferred to our competitors, while acknowledging the importance of recruiting the most advanced technical workforce to the United States.

While not directly addressing the issue of displacement of Americans by foreign workers in STEM occupations, the NSS does twice underscore the importance of preparing Americans to work in these fields, and the President has made it clear that economic prosperity, which means greater employment opportunities and higher wages for American workers, strengthens national security.

He has also been emphatic that he will not sign any compromise bill from Congress that grants amnesty to DACA recipients if it does not end Chain Migration and the Visa Lottery, and contain genuine border security and enforcement provisions.

Given his strong statements of support for the above measures, and the formal endorsement of the policies outlined in the NSS, it will be very difficult for the White House, and politically damaging for the Republican Congress, to back away from these principles in 2018.

ERIC RUARK is the Director of Research for NumbersUSA

Updated: Sat, Jan 13th 2018 @ 10:10am EST

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