When the executive order travel bans were issued, they included directives to the DHS Secretary to review the security risks posed by refugee admissions. In January, DHS announced that additional security enhancements and recommendations to strengthen the integrity of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) have been implemented. The new measures are part of the Administration’s effort to intensify screening and vetting for all arriving foreign nationals, but particularly for refugees arriving from the Middle East and Africa. These measures include:
- Additional screening for certain nationals of high-risk countries;
- Administering the USRAP in a more risk-based manner when considering the overall refugee admissions ceiling, regional allocations, and the groups of applicants considered for resettlement;
- A periodic review and update of the refugee high-risk country list and selection criteria.
It is reasonable for DHS to evaluate our refugee program for security and efficiency, but not to re-orient it away from its primary humanitarian purpose of providing relief to those who are persecuted and identifying refugees for resettlement. We hope these new measures, which focus on security threats and risk assessments, do not totally undermine the reason for our refugee admissions program.