Trump administration resumes US refugee program, adds security measures

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Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up as he departs the White House in Washington to spend the weekend in Florida. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that ends his temporary ban on refugee admissions. He also called for a review of the program for 11 countries.

Previously, Trump pended the processing of all refugees to the US for a period of 120 days. The 120-day window ended on Tuesday. The White House has resumed the United States refugee program with added security measures, which appear to reflect the “extreme vetting” Trump has called for since becoming the US leader.

As part of the added security, the Trump administration is going to conduct a new 90-day review. It involves countries that the White House has deemed “high risk.”

The administration did not name which nations are part of the review. Applicants from those countries would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Reuters has obtained a memo stating that the government review would seek “to determine what additional safeguards, if any, were necessary to ensure that the admission of refugees from these countries of concern does not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.” Refugee admission must not pose a threat to the security or welfare of the US.

Higher-security screening was required for adult male nationals from several countries like Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen as of the end of 2016. In September, the White House issued new travel restrictions on foreigners from eight countries: Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. It is not immediately clear whether these countries are among the 11 being reviewed.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised to ban Muslims from entering the US. He also stood against the acceptance of refugees from Syria as he seemed to believe that those fleeing the country “may be ISIS.” Trump said at a town hall in February 2016, “There’s absolutely no way of saying where these people come from.”

The Trump administration’s travel ban temporarily halted the entry of refuges into the US. It was first issued in January, then a revised travel ban was released before being held up in court.

The Supreme Court has dismissed the final lawsuit challenging the original ban. Legal battle is ongoing in lower courts. Based on figures released by the Department of Homeland Security in June, the number of refugees admitted to the US had dropped under Trump’s administration.

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