Monday, 19 November, 2018

United States to resume entry of refugees

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. AP President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. AP
Ellis Copeland | 25 October, 2017, 10:30

The order allows the Trump administration to restart the Refugee Admissions Program under new rules on the special screening of refugees "whose entry continues to pose potential threats to the security and welfare of the United States".

A senior US official told reporters on condition of anonymity that during the 90-day review period, refugees from the 11 countries can still be admitted to the United States on a case-by-case basis, "if it's deemed to be in the national interest and they pose no threat". It directs federal agencies to resume refugee processing, which he clamped down on shortly after taking office.

The President had previously suspended the processing of all refugees to the United States for a period of 120 days as part of a previous executive order, issued in tandem with his travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries. The 120 days are up on Tuesday.

Trump has made limiting immigration the centrepiece of his policy agenda. Trump quickly issued temporary bans on refugees and travelers from some Middle Eastern and African countries that were challenged in court.

Opponents of the bans argued that the policies were aimed at barring Muslims from the United States.

The Trump administration is planning to unveil new screening procedures soon.

In place of the total ban, higher scrutiny and collection of information about such things as family members and places of employment will be used, a senior administration official told CNN. The 120 days ended on Tuesday, and Trump issued an executive order allowing the general resumption of the USA refugee program.

Refugee advocates say the tighter requirements on refugees from those nations could add months, if not years, to the application process, effectively banning them from coming into the United States.

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The new requirements will put an additional burden on refugees fleeing war, starvation or ethnic cleansing, whose lives have often been upended and whose family members may be scattered across the world, refugee advocates said. DHS spokesman Dave Lapan said there would be an announcement on refugees later on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump issued his new order on refugee screening Tuesday as the administration's four-month ban on refugee admissions expired.

Starting Wednesday, all refugees will face more extensive background checks. Additional screening will likely lengthen the wait.

Even with the ban lifted, refugee admissions are expected to be far lower than in recent years. The centers request the SAOs on the basis of guidelines issued by the US government.

Until the end of 2016, higher-security screening was needed for most adult male nationals of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Three sources familiar with refugee processing said that list was still current.

During his 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. It was not immediately clear if that change had been finalized and will be part of the new refugee vetting process. There will also be further guidance on the inadmissibility of applicants regarding crimes, including drug offenses, prostitution and fraud.

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.

Citizens of the 11 countries comprised 44 percent of the almost 54,000 refugees admitted into the United States in the 2017 fiscal year, according to State Department data.

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