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HIAS Calls for Greater Transparency on Additional Refugee Vetting Measures

SILVER SPRING, Md.—On Monday, January 29, the Department of Homeland Security announced “additional security enhancements and recommendations to strengthen the integrity of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.” The new measures follow the completion of a 90-day review of 11 “high-risk” countries identified as part of the Trump Administration’s executive order issued on October 24, 2017. During the 90-day period, refugees from the 11 countries were banned from the U.S. These countries represent nearly half of all refugee admissions in recent years. Due to this and other bureaucratic requirements layered into the U.S. refugee program over the past few months, the Trump Administration is on pace to welcome the fewest refugees in the history of the program.

The new recommendations allude to additional screening, a periodic review of the “refugee high-risk country list,” and administering the refugee program in a “more risk-based manner.” However, DHS gave no indication about whether refugee admissions would now resume at a pace that would allow 45,000 refugees to enter the U.S. this year, or if these new rules would slow admissions even further.

In response to the announcement, HIAS Senior Vice President for Public Affairs Melanie Nezer issued the following statement:

“The tens of thousands of refugees who have been banned during the past three months must know if they will now be able to find the safety our country offered to them in the United States. HIAS and our supporters in the American Jewish community urge the Trump Administration to restart the refugee admissions program in both a secure and humane fashion. After DHS’ announcement, we remain concerned that these new procedures will not make us safer and will only serve to keep refugees out of the United States.”

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U.S. Refugee Admissions Program