Now that the Trump administration’s temporary ban on accepting new refugees – first implemented in June after the Supreme Court ruled that a narrower version of Trump’s second travel ban would be allowed to take effect – has expired, the administration has said it will begin accepting refugees from all countries, but with new rules meant to better vet applicants, and with a tighter cap on the number of refugees that was previously unveiled last month, both the WSJ and Fox reported, citing sources close to the administration.
President Trump is expected to announce a tighter cap on the number of refugees admitted to the US and call for tougher vetting rules during a speech on Tuesday – the day the 120-day refugee ban expires. Coinciding with the deadline, Trump is expected to sign a document starting the process of allowing refugees back into the US under new guidelines.
Under the rules, the administration would cap refugee admissions at 45,000. That’s down from 110,000 under the last year of the Obama administration.
After Trump signs the order, the administration will begin collecting more biographical data, such as names of family members and places of employment, officials said. The administration will also do more to mine social media posts to see, for instance, if refugees’ public pronouncements are consistent with the stories they offer in their applications, the officials said.
Meanwhile, the officials responsible for the screening at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, which is part of the Department of Homeland Security, will be given new guidance and better training to help detect fraud in refugees’ applications.
Under the new order being issued, refugee admissions will resume for all countries. However, one person familiar with the planning said that people from 11 targeted countries will be subject to additional vetting that will slow down the process for them.
As WSJ points out, the vetting process can be particularly challenging because applicants have been forced to flee their home countries and often don’t have documents to confirm their identities and personal details.
The Obama administration also sought to increase vetting of social media posts, but officials involved say their efforts were limited in part because the process is labor intensive.
Of course, Trump’s immigration policies have been repeatedly challenged by federal judges. But while the courts have delivered a series of setbacks to the administration’s efforts to block travelers from certain – most of them Muslim-majority – countries. But the Supreme Court gave the administration a temporary victory on the refugee policy last month, allowing the ban to stay in place until the October expiration.