The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) begins implementation of heightened national security standards as part of an effort to “intensify screening in order to keep nefarious and fraudulent actors” out of the United States, according to an October 24 department release. The new vetting procedures comes after President Trump’s March 6 call for a 120-day pause on refugee resettlement while government officials conducted a review of the existing program.
The result of the review conducted jointly by DHS, the Department of State (DoS) and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), examined intelligence and identified gaps within the vetting and screening process. As a result, federal officials established new vetting process measures necessary to ensure those “seeking admission as refugees do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States.”
Specific vetting enhancements include:
- Increased data collection for more thorough applicant investigation
- Improved information-sharing between agencies for the purpose of identifying “threat actors”
- Better training procedures designed to strengthen screening officers’ fraud detection
Although the procedures are deemed “adequate to resume refugee admissions,” federal officials conducting the review “have also concluded that additional in-depth review is needed with respect to refugees from 11 countries previously identified as posing a higher risk to the United States.” These, according to the release, “will move forward on a case-by-case basis during an additional 90-day review period, consistent with our national security interests.” Agencies will resume the standard admissions process for these foreign national applicants as officials complete individual country reviews.
The full extent of the measures is outlined in a memo to the president, the full text of which is here.
“The security of the American people is this administration’s highest priority, and these improved vetting measure are essential for American security,” Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke said. “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.”