US lifts ban on refugees, 11 nations to face extra scrutiny
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US lifts ban on refugees, 11 nations to face extra scrutiny

The 11 countries were not identified, but reports indicated they would mostly be Muslim-majority nations.

world Updated: Oct 25, 2017 22:26 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
United States,refugees,President Donald Trump
US President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House on October 23, 2017.(Reuters)

The United States on Tuesday lifted a 120-day temporary ban on refugees from entering the country, but said that applicants from 11 “high-risk” countries will face extra scrutiny.

The 11 countries were not identified, but reports indicated they would mostly be Muslim-nations — Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — as well as North Korea and South Sudan.

In an executive order issued on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said the improvements in the vetting process of refugee admission programme since the ban was imposed are “generally adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States” and the departments of state and the homeland security “may resume that programme, and that they will apply special measures to certain categories of refugees”.

The new “enhanced vetting” measures include increased data collection to more thoroughly investigate applicants with more biographical information, improved information sharing between agencies “to identify threat actors”, and “new training procedures to strengthen screener ability to detect fraud and deception”.

The executive order did not spell out the categories, or even the number of countries whose applicants will be impacted. That came in a separate announcement from the department of homeland security, which said that the “admissions for applicants from those 11 high-risk countries will move forward on a case-by-case basis during an additional 90-day review period”. They may return to standard vetting processes after “complete individual country reviews”.

“The security of the American people is this administration’s highest priority, and these improved vetting measures are essential for American security,” acting secretary of homeland security Elaine Duke said. “These new, standardised screening measures provide an opportunity for the United States to welcome those in need into our country, while ensuring a safer, more secure homeland.”

Trump had imposed a temporary ban on the entry of all refugees just days after assuming office in January, with an indefinite ban from those from Syria. He had also suspended the entry of visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations. However, the travel ban was narrowed down subsequently in the face of outrage and legal challenges.

First Published: Oct 25, 2017 22:26 IST