Immigration: Security Checks and Enforcement

Who Makes the Change?

US government’s administrative departments (e.g. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security [including the US Citizenship & Immigration Service – USCIS], etc.)


Administrative agencies may make changes to enforcement priorities and processes at any time, and will likely have a new focus on overall security and enforcement.

The government’s administrative agencies are responsible to enforce the laws that are written by the US legislature. However, the administrative agencies determine how they will interpret and enforce written laws within their purview. For example, the Department of State oversees the security checks for people applying for visas to the US; the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration & Customs Enforcement oversees security issues for non-US-citizens inside the US.

The leaders of administrative agencies are appointed by the President. Depending on the priorities of the agency’s leader, an administrative agency may change it focus. For example, the new head of the Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly, has a military background and is expected to focus on security along the US-Mexican border.

Sometimes the President, who is the head of many administrative agencies, provides guidance to administrative agencies outlining how the laws should be interpreted and enforced. If he would like that guidance to be public, he can issue an executive order. President Trump has issued executive orders guiding immigration enforcement

agencies to be more proactive in security checks, inspection, and enforcement. While it will take time to see how robust such enforcement will actually be - given the agencies’ limited resources - it is clear that the goal of the agencies is to provide as much enforcement as is financially possible.

If you would like to receive updates on changes to the U.S. immigration system that could affect UO’s global employees, please subscribe to the Immigration Update email list.

What should I do if I’m Contacted by Law Enforcement?

For information about your rights and legal responses to inquiries by law enforcement, visit the American Immigration Council website.

You have the right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney before you answer any questions by an immigration official. If you are contacted by law enforcement, you may want to contact an immigration attorney about your specific situation and concerns.  Visit the American Immigration Lawyers Association website for information on how to select an immigration attorney and a list of immigration attorneys.