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Trump Administration Lifts 'Pause' on Refugee Resettlement

Syrian refugees gather in a camp in Suruc, Turkey, on March 30, 2015. (Procyk Radek/Shutterstock.com)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government today reopened the refugee admissions program after the 120-day “pause” President Trump put on resettlement.

The Department of Homeland Security said that officials are implementing enhanced vetting of refugee applicants including “increased data collection to more thoroughly investigate applicants, better information sharing between agencies to identify threat actors, and new training procedures to strengthen screener ability to detect fraud and deception.”

An executive order from Trump states that the review of the program, with the added security enhancements, ensured that “refugee screening and vetting process generally meets the uniform baseline for immigration screening and vetting.”

Refugees from countries deemed high-risk — Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as stateless refugees — “will move forward on a case-by-case basis during an additional 90-day review period, consistent with our national security interests,” according to DHS. A normal admissions process could resume for these refugees after DHS, the State Department and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence complete country reviews.

The processing of all “following-to-join” refugees will be delayed while additional vetting measures are implemented. The nationalities most represented in applications from family members wishing to join relatives in the United States in recent years have been Iraqi, Somali, Burmese, Congolese, Ethiopian and Eritrean.

“The security of the American people is this administration’s highest priority, and these improved vetting measures are essential for American security,” Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said in a statement. “These new, standardized screening measures provide an opportunity for the United States to welcome those in need into our country, while ensuring a safer, more secure homeland.”

Trump’s order today adds that within 180 days Attorney General Jeff Sessions “shall, in consultation with the secretary of State and the secretary of Homeland Security, and in cooperation with the heads of other executive departments and agencies as he deems appropriate, provide a report to the president on the effect of refugee resettlement in the United States on the national security, public safety, and general welfare of the United States.”

That report will “include any recommendations the attorney general deems necessary to advance those interests.”