US Announces Tougher Screening For Refugees from 11 Nations

Trump administration reopens door to some refugees- but says vetting will be tough

The Trump administration said Monday that it will resume accepting refugees from 11 nations whose applicants it designated "high-risk", and will implement tougher screening procedures to weed out potential extremists and criminals.

"We will be rolling out new security measures for applicants from high-risk countries, which will seek to prevent the [refugee] program from being exploited by terrorists, criminals and fraudsters", DHS Secretary Kirtjen Nielsen said Monday at an event in Washington, adding that the changes "will not only improve security, but importantly, they will help us better assist legitimate refugees fleeing prosecution".

They will undergo risk-based assessments before admission, says Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. It is not clear whether the 11 countries included in the new list for tougher screening are the same countries subject to the DHS, State Department and ODNI review.

The refugee pause was controversial because most of the countries were Mulim majority.

The new guidelines were announced at a press briefing by senior administration officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

During the briefing, officials said refugees will not be barred from admission to the United States exclusively on the basis of nationality.

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Justifying the restrictions, Nielsen said they are aimed not only at enhancing U.S. security, but also at helping "legitimate refugees fleeing persecution".

The new measures will include additional interviews of applicants' family members, and close scrunity of potential ties to organized crime, senior USA officials said in a conference call with reporters Monday.

Trump paused refugee admissions for four months previous year, and the screening processes were reviewed over a 90-day period that expired last week.

The 11 countries, hit with a ban in October in the Trump administration's revised refugee policy, have not been identified officially. He also issued an executive order pausing the refugee program pending a thorough review, instituted stricter vetting requirements and quit negotiations on a voluntary pact to deal with global migration.

The United States has admitted approximately 6,500 refugees since the fiscal year began in October, compared with about 32,000 during the same period last year, according to State Department data.

Since Oct. 25, the day the 90-day review went into effect, 46 refugees from the 11 countries have been allowed into the United States, according to State Department data.

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