Photographer: Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images

Trump Administration Toughens Admission for Refugees

The Trump administration is toughening refugee admissions to the U.S. by digging deeper into the backgrounds of applicants from “high-risk” countries.

The changes will not only “improve security” but “help us better assist legitimate refugees fleeing persecution,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said during a speech in Washington Monday.

Additional screening and vetting will be applied to 11 countries, including more in-depth interviews of applicants and their family members, among other security measures, administration officials said in a call to reporters. They said the new procedures will be phased in, with many steps in place by the end of March.

The officials wouldn’t identify the 11 countries. But President Donald Trump’s 11-nation refugee ban last year covered Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, South Sudan and North Korea.

In October, Trump resumed refugee admissions, but required applicants from the 11 countries be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to the officials. Now, the government will resume all processing from those countries along with the beefed-up security measures, the administration officials said.

Administration officials insisted that the directive complies with a Seattle federal court’s order temporarily halting the Trump administration from enforcing the refugee ban.

The U.S. will work closely with the United Nations, but has access to far more information on applicants than the UN refugee agency’s vetting process allows, officials said.

— With assistance by Kartikay Mehrotra

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