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24 Oct, 2017 21:04

Trump signs executive order limiting refugee entry from 11 countries

Trump signs executive order limiting refugee entry from 11 countries

An executive order signed by President Donald Trump outlines the administration's plans to resume the refugee admissions program with enhanced vetting capabilities.

The order states that the screening and vetting procedures that determine which foreign nationals enter the US, including through the US Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), play a critical role in rolling out the policy.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson convened a working group to implement the new review process, and the Homeland Security secretary will determine what actions to be taken, according to the executive order.

Both officials will address concerns to the security and welfare of the US affected by permitting refugees into the country, the order states. They will also determine what actions will be taken in response.

The memo states that within 90 days, and with the passing of each year, the secretary of homeland security, along with the secretary of state and the director of national intelligence, will determine whether any actions will be taken on permitting any refugee to enter the US.

This policy change follows the expiration of a previous refugee ban earlier Tuesday.

Prior to the release of the executive order, the administration reportedly made a memo available to members of Congress Tuesday afternoon. It stated that the administration “will conduct a detailed threat analysis and review” for citizens of 11 “high risk countries,” and in the meantime will “temporarily prioritize refugee applications” from other countries, Reuters reported Tuesday.

The administration is also temporarily pausing a program which allows refugees already in the US to apply for their relatives abroad to join them, until additional security measures for the program can be implemented, according to the memo, Reuters reported.

The memo was signed by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Reuters reported.

The memo further stated that refugees from countries that do not require higher-level security screening, also known as Security Advisory Opinions (SAOs), will be temporarily prioritized over the 11 high-risk countries.

These actions will be taken because the non-SAO refugees’ “processing may not be as resource intensive,” according to the document.

Eric Schwartz, the president of Refugees International, criticized Trump's new order.

“The administration has had more than six months to review this policy,” he said, the New York Times reported. Schwartz added, “they’ve come back in October to reimpose what will largely be seen as another unreasonable ban that primarily affects Muslims.”

Schwartz also called the order “a cynical and tragic manipulation of administrative process” that “conflicts with US values and interests.”

The president's new directive came only hours after the Supreme Court dismissed the last remaining appeal relating to a pair of cases challenging an earlier version of the president's travel restrictions which he signed in March.

The order from March was replaced in September with broader limits. In an unsigned disposition, the court said the case was now moot.

“We express no view on the merits,” it said.

However, the September restrictions have been blocked separately by federal district courts in Hawaii and Maryland, and could eventually reach the Supreme Court, according to the New York Times.

The Supreme Court did more than just dismiss the case on Tuesday, though. It also vacated the decision under appeal, from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. This means the decision can not be used as a precedent, the New York times reported.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley (New York) called the new vetting process "unnecessary" and accused President Donald Trump of advancing "an unconstitutional Muslim Ban," while vowing to fight the president's "policies that run counter to our American values."