The President issued a memorandum directing the establishment of a National Vetting Center (the Center), subject to oversight by a National Vetting Governance Board (the Board), to coordinate screening and vetting of individuals seeking to enter the United States.  Led by the Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with  the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Director of National Intelligence, the Center will be tasked with integrating and improving the work of federal intelligence agencies in screening foreign visitors and immigrants.  The agencies have a six-month deadline to establish the Center.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen issued a statement describing the directive as “yet another step towards knowing who is coming to the United States – that they are who they say they are and that they do not pose a threat to our nation.”  According to the secretary, “Our frontline defenders need real-time information to protect our country, and the Center will ensure they are able to fuse intelligence and law enforcement data from across the government in one place to detect threats early.”

While neither the Center nor the Board will be funded, the intelligence agencies will assign members to the Center, including a full-time Director  from DHS and Deputy Directors detailed from the Departments of State and Justice, respectively.  The Center will be given access to databases, data sets, knowledge bases, systems, and technical architectures controlled by the Federal Government, within the confines of governing laws and cyber security requirements.

Because the Trump administration expects protests from different civil rights movements, the memorandum also establishes a panel that will supervise privacy and civil rights issues that may arise during the vetting process.

What does this mean for employers?

In the past 10 months, we have encountered multiple instances of aberrational security checks for longstanding visitors to the United States with unblemished records.  A central function that enhances inter-agency reviews could focus the government on identification of high-risk threats, and mitigate the instances where low-risk candidates are subjected to lengthy or redundant security checks.