Trump Allows Refugee Admissions to Resume with New Screening Procedures

Trump issued a new executive order late month - dubbed "Travel Ban 3.0" - which is already before the lower courts, and those challenges are likely to make their way back up to the Supreme Court on an emergency basis.

Refugees seeking entry to the US will face what officials described as more stringent and thorough examination of their backgrounds, in line with Trump's "extreme vetting" policy for immigrants.

Trump took office in January with a goal of sharply cutting refugee admissions, in line with the hard-line immigration policies that were a focal point of the Republican's 2016 election campaign.

The government is working to implement new procedures to ensure that all individuals admitted as refugees receive similar vetting - whether they are principal refugees or family members following to join later, according to the DHS. That review period will last 90 days. The new ban removed Sudan from the list and blocked people from Chad and North Korea and certain government officials from Venezuela from entering the United States. The administration has denied any intent to discriminate and argued that its travel ban and security changes were meant to protect the United States from terrorist acts.

Once the security enhancements are in place, admission of following-to-join refugees can resume, said a DHS official.

Trump has advocated keeping refugees closer to their homes.

A White House spokeswoman declined to comment on the new procedures, referring questions to the Department of Homeland Security.

On Sept. 29, the White House announced that Trump had set the refugee admissions ceiling at 45,000 for Fiscal Year 2018, which began on October 1 - the lowest cap since the refugee admissions program began in 1975.

But refugees who want to come to the US will be subject to additional screening.

The document also said that anyone who had already completed the interview process and been referred for an SAO, a higher level of security screening by multiple federal agencies, would have to be re-interviewed to ask the additional questions.

The memo said that refugee processing centres overseas will not be able to request new SAOs for refugees until there is further guidance from the government.

But the net effect over the longer term will be that the top United Nations refugee official will not be able to lean on the United States to accept as many people as in the past. Others who are considered "stateless" by the United States who lived in one of the 11 countries also fall under the mandatory SAO requirement, according to a State Department document seen by Reuters. In fiscal 2017, out of 53,716 refugees the United States accepted, 22,150 came from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Somalia.

Rulings against the newest ban in Hawaii and later in Maryland only apply to the six Muslim-majority countries. A global refugee crisis has left millions around the world displaced, putting pressure on western nations like the U.S. to dramatically increase the amount of refugees annually admitted.

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