Trump Orders Review of Refugee Admissions Program for 11 Unspecified Countries

By Kenrya Rankin Oct 25, 2017

Yesterday (October 24) marked the end of the 120-day ban on refugees to the United States. President Donald Trump used the occasion to issue an executive order that provides the next step in his quest to curtail immigration.

Titled “Presidential Executive Order on Resuming the United States Refugee Admissions Program with Enhanced Vetting Capabilities,” the order resumes the admission of refugees and says that the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security “will apply special measures to certain categories of refugees whose entry continues to pose potential threats to the security and welfare of the United States.”

It also calls for a 90-day review of the program for 11 unspecified countries that the administration says are “high risk.” The order additionally requires Attorney General Jeff Sessions to provide a report on the impact refugee resettlement has “on the national security, public safety and general welfare of the United States.”

Per a memo sent to Congress and obtained by Reuters, the order also suspends a program that permits some refugees to bring over their family members. Reuters also reports that as of the end of 2016, most adult male refugees from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen (plus Palestinians who resided in those countries) are already subject to additional screening. The administration declined to confirm if the 11 countries match up with this list.

Refugee advocates worry that the order will target Muslim nationals the same way the president’s travel ban did. From Refugees International president Eric Schwartz’s statement:

The administration has had more than six months to review this policy under the March executive order, and they’ve come back in October to re-impose what will largely be seen as another unreasonable ban that primarily affects Muslims. I hope they at least have the decency to be transparent about what they are doing, and name the nationalities affected. It is a cynical and tragic manipulation of administrative process, and conflicts with U.S. values and interests.