State Department Diplomatic Memorandum
Issued on March 15, 2017

Policy Summary

In instructions sent to all U.S embassies and consulates on March 15, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson began to outline a complicated process that some visa applicants may need to undergo. While the memo remains vague, they specifically reference that certain “population sets” would be subject to “increased scrutiny”, regardless of whether they were eligible for visas prior to the new restrictions. In line with President Trump’s calls for “extreme vetting”, the memo originally enumerated the six countries under Trump’s executive order as high priorities. This has since been redacted, but calls for investigating social media profiles and email accounts remain. LEARN MORE (UPDATE)


These new restrictions seem to fulfill Trump’s discriminatory ideas of banning people based on ethnicity or national origin. Not only does the United States already use a very complicated and thorough vetting process, but processes like this have failed in the past. Racist policy hurts citizens domestically, and it sends negative messages to our allies abroad and the rest of the international community. Regardless of the fate of Trump’s new executive order, Tillerson may be able to succeed with these new guidelines because their intentionally nebulous nature will make them harder to fight legally. LEARN MORE 

Engagement Resources

  • Amnesty International — An organization that works across the globe to secure justice and human rights for all citizens, especially refugees and immigrants.
  • Refugee International — An NGO that supports refugees and displaced people in many regions across the globe through donations and legal and personal assistance.
  • Immigration Advocates Network — A collection of groups and organizations that provide labor and legal advice to immigrants as well as facilitates logistical and operational coordination between NGOs

This brief was compiled by Jacob Malinowski. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact



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