The Trump administration said Tuesday it will now accept refugees from all countries into the U.S., with more stringent vetting for newcomers from 11 unidentified “high-risk nations.”
President Trump signed an executive order imposing more enhanced vetting procedures for the refugee applicants from the 11 nations.
While officials refused to name the 11 high-risk nations, the Washington Times reported that they include Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Applicants from those nations will be required to show that they will contribute to America’s national interests before refugee status can be granted.
“There will be a general resumption of refugee admissions under this exec order,” a senior administration official told Fox News. “While that review is ongoing, refugee admissions from the 11 countries will be considered on a case-by-case basis and poses [sic] no threat to the welfare of the United States.”
In June, President Trump ordered that the Department of Homeland Security establish an “extreme vetting” process to ensure “radical Islamic terrorists” won’t enter the U.S. while claiming refugee status. The president instituted a 120-day freeze on the refugee program, but that freeze expired Tuesday.
“It’s classified, and I expect it will stay classified,” an administration told the Wall Street Journal when asked for a list of nations deemed high risk.
U.S. authorities plan to gather more biographical data from applicants from the 11 countries, including names of family members and employment histories. The prospective newcomers will also have their names run through law-enforcement and intelligence databases to detect any potential “criminal activity.” And their social media accounts will be searched for any inconsistencies between their public postings and statements made during interviews.
The State Department played a lead role in establishing the new vetting process, along with the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, an administration official told the Wall Street Journal.
Also Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court dismissed Hawaii’s legal challenge to Trump’s refugee policy, ruling that the case is moot since the president’s so-called “ban” expired Tuesday.
“Because those provisions of the Order have ‘expired by [their] own terms,’ the appeal no longer presents a ‘live case or controversy,'” the court said.
When he campaigned for the White House, Trump promised his base he would stem the “massive flow of refugees” brought to the U.S. every year. He said America’s screening process did little to protect national security and could enable extremists to take advantage of the program, gaining entry into the country. Last month, President Trump established a policy of admitting 45,000 refugees to the U.S. for fiscal year 2018, which began Oct. 1.
“We don’t want them here,” he said at the time, warning that America needed to update its process “to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas.”
Trump added, “We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people.”
In November 2015, Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity: “So many people in the migration were strong young men. You look at ’em. I’m saying, where are the women? Where are the children? We’re taking in people [and] we have no idea who they are. They have no identification. They have no papers. They’re creating papers. They’re making up papers. …
“It could very well be the ultimate Trojan horse.”