US borders reopen for refugees who undergo extreme vetting

A move by President Trump will once again allow refugees to enter the United States. The reopening comes with the condition that all applications go through stricter scrutiny. However, the new screening measures could further complicate an already lengthy process. 

Ted S. Warren/AP/File
Demonstrators gather outside a federal courthouse in Seattle to protest President Trump's travel and refugee ban on May 15. Mr. Trump adjusted the ban on Oct. 24 to put refugees wanting to resettle in the United States through a new extreme vetting process.

President Trump on Tuesday allowed the resumption of refugee admissions into the United States under new, stricter screening rules but ordered nationals from 11 countries believed to pose a higher risk to US national security to face even tougher scrutiny.

Officials refused to identify the 11 countries, but said refugee applications from those nations will be judged case-by-case.

Mr. Trump issued his new order on refugee screening as the administration's four-month ban on refugee admissions expired. It directs federal agencies to resume refugee processing, which he clamped down on shortly after taking office.

The new "enhanced vetting" procedures for all refugees include such measures as collecting additional biographical and other information to better determine whether refugees are being truthful about their status; improving information-sharing between agencies; stationing fraud detection officers at certain locations overseas; and training screeners to weed out fraud and deception.

Refugees already face an extensive backlog and waiting periods that can take years. Additional screening will likely lengthen the wait.

"The security of the American people is this administration's highest priority, and these improved vetting measures are essential for American security," said acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke. "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."

Jennifer Sime, senior vice president of US programs for the International Rescue Committee aid group, said in advance of the announcement that she was concerned the new screening procedures would add months or even years to the most urgent refugee cases. She said most of those cases involve women and children in "heinous circumstances who need the permanent and proven solution of resettlement."

"With a world facing brutal and protracted conflicts like in Syria, or new levels of displacement and unimaginable violence against the Rohingya – this moment is a test of the world's humanity, moral leadership, and ability to learn from the horrors of the past," she said. Ms. Sime was referring to the mounting refugee crisis in Myanmar, where more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh to escape retaliation from security forces.

Even with the refugee ban lifted, admissions are expected to be far lower than in recent years.

Trump last month capped refugee admissions at 45,000 for the year that started Oct. 1, a significant cut from the 110,000 limit put in place a year earlier by former President Barack Obama. The actual number admitted this year could be lower than 45,000, since the cap sets a maximum limit, not a minimum.

In a separate action Tuesday, the US Supreme Court dismissed a case about the refugee ban. An order from the justices wipes away a lower court ruling that found problems with the refugee ban and with a temporary pause on visitors from six mostly Muslim countries. A new travel policy that applies to six countries with Muslim majorities already has been blocked by lower courts.

The limits on refugees were in addition to Trump's broader "travel ban" on people from several countries. Courts have repeatedly blocked that policy, but largely left the temporary refugee policy in place.

Trump has made limiting immigration a centerpiece of his administration's efforts to safeguard US national security.

Besides the travel ban, which initially targeted a handful of Muslim-majority nations, the president rescinded an Obama-era executive action protecting immigrants brought to the country as minors from deportation. He has also vowed to build a wall along the border with Mexico.

During the presidential campaign, Trump pledged to "stop the massive inflow of refugees" and warned that terrorists were smuggling themselves into naive countries by posing as refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

"Thousands of refugees are being admitted with no way to screen them and are instantly made eligible for welfare and free health care, even as our own veterans, our great, great veterans, die while they're waiting online for medical care that they desperately need," Trump said last October.

Trump has said the best way to help refugees is to keep them closer to their home countries.

This story was reported by The Associated Press. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to US borders reopen for refugees who undergo extreme vetting
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2017/1025/US-borders-reopen-for-refugees-who-undergo-extreme-vetting
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe