Refugee resettlements will resume with new rules that are meant to more strictly vet the backgrounds of potential immigrants.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the new rules include collecting more personal data, such as names of family members and prior employment information, as well as crosschecking social media posts to confirm information on applications to enter the US. Additionally, officials at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services who examine applications will be given improved training on detecting fraud.
Under the new policy, refugee admissions will resume from all countries, but a source familiar with the policy told the Journal that refugees from 11 targeted countries will be subject to additional screening. The 11 countries were not specified, but would almost certainly include Syria, Iran, Chad, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea.
Under President Trump’s initial immigration Executive Order, refugee admissions were totally suspended for 120 days. The ban went into effect in June after the Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality.
Under the old rules, American vetting of refugees was already among the toughest in the world. “The United States’ refugee vetting procedures—which include extensive and comprehensive interviews as well as multiple rounds of security vetting with an array of U.S. and international intelligence and law enforcement agencies—are widely recognized as the most stringent in the world,” Human Rights First, a pro-refugee group said in a statement last month.
The Journal also notes that the Obama Administration also tried to increase vetting of social media posts, but that the program proved difficult because it was so labor intensive. The Trump Administration has not indicated how it will handle the social media vetting.
Although refugees have carried out terror attacks in other countries, only one refugee in the United States has been convicted on terror-related charges. Fazliddin Kurbanov, an Uzbekistan national admitted to the US in 2009, was convicted in 2013. Abdul Razak Ali Artan, who carried out stabbing attacks at Ohio State University in 2016, was a Somali refugee. The Tsarnaev brothers, who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing, came to the US from Chechnya, but were not classified as refugees. Many other domestic terrorists were second-generation immigrants.
As part of the revisions to immigration policies, the Trump Administration limited the number of refugees that would be allowed into the US to 45,000. In contrast, the Obama Administration had planned to allow 110,000 refugees in 2017. There is no indication that the refugee cap will be changed under the new policy.