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Refugee admissions set to resume from 11 countries Trump had prohibited
Refugee advocates criticized the additional vetting as discriminatory and needlessly burdensome, arguing that refugees are already subject to intensive background checks.
By Rick Docksai
Feb 22, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — Refugees from 11 countries that the Trump administration had deemed "high-risk" will be free to enter the United States for the first time since October 2017, as long as they pass some added security screenings and interviews, White House officials said Monday. The Trump administration had suspended refugee admissions from the listed countries for the last three months while it conducted a 90-day "security review" following the expiration in October of Trump's ban on refugees from anywhere.

Officials would not describe the new screening measures, but they said that they will go into effect before June. Nor would the officials confirm which 11 countries were subject to the enhanced screenings. As of late 2016, high-security screenings were in place for the following 11: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Refugees to the United States must already go through an extensive vetting process that can take up to two years and involve investigations by several government agencies, along with in-person interviews and medical exams. And the Trump administration has reduced the annual cap on refugee admissions to 45,000 people, the lowest cap on record. So far, the nation is on track to resettle fewer than half that target number in fiscal-year 2018, according to the International Rescue Committee.

Ashley Houghton, tactical campaign manager at Amnesty International USA, said her organization fears the heightened screening procedures will overly burden refugees whom she said already face a difficult process. She also criticized the measures as "discriminatory" and noted that most refugees are seeking to flee violence in their home countries.

"Adding yet more hurdles to an already overly-bureaucratic process will burden those seeking safety for themselves and their families," Houghton said in a statement.