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U.S. Resumes Accepting Refugees, Toughens Vetting Process

sunset-flag-america-fields-300x200With the Trump administration’s 120-day ban against refugees expiring this month, the White House announced that it is now allowing refugees into the country once more, but this time, they must meet new immigration requirement on top of additional screening processes.

In an October 24 press release, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke said: “The security of the American people is this administration’s highest priority, and these improved vetting measures are essential for American security. These new, standardized screening measures provide an opportunity for the United States to welcome those in need into our country, while ensuring a safer, more secure homeland.”

The old refugee vetting system only required 5 years’ worth of personal information from asylum seekers as well as a basic background of their family ties. Under the new Trump refugee program, vetting now requires applicants to produce email addresses, residential addresses, and phone numbers from until 10 years prior to application, along with the personal and contact details of all family ties, including those not situated in the United States.

On top of this, the administration will conduct an additional 90-day review of vetting procedures for refugees from the 11 countries listed under the travel ban. These are Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Republic of South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen—countries the White House says pose a higher security risk to the country.

But groups helping refugees assimilate into the United States raised concerns about the additional vetting procedures, noting that refugees entering the country already go through the most stringent vetting processes—placing more requirements for people fleeing for their lives in search of safety only puts an unnecessary burden on their shoulders.

On top of this, refugee advocates lamented the capping of the United States’ refugee program under the Trump administration, which announced that only 45,000 refugees would be allowed into the country in 2017—half of the Obama administration’s cap in 2016 and the lowest number in years. The groups claim that the significantly lowered cap, paired with the additional obstacles in the application process, would result in a devastating net decrease in accepted refugees.

The new refugee guidelines come after the embattled Trump administration has found itself in a legal war with federal courts that have ruled to block the president’s controversial travel ban against Muslim-majority countries, which they believe represent an unconstitutional Muslim ban.

These federal courts took the fight all the way to the Supreme Court, only for the justices to rule these cases were moot when the travel ban expired. Only time will tell if the White House’s changes to the refugee program see a similar legal battle.

For now, refugees from the 11 countries in question will have to comply with these tighter restrictions. If you are concerned about the future of the travel ban and how it may affect you and your loved ones, talk to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.