The United States on January 29, 2018 announced that it is lifting the ban that it had imposed on refugees from 11 nations, which it termed as high-risk countries.
Despite resuming the process of accepting the refugees, the US Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated that those seeking to enter the US would have to come under much tougher scrutiny than in the past. She said that the refugees will have to undergo tougher screening procedures and risk-based assessments before getting admission into the nation.
The new screening measures include additional interviews of applicants’ family members and close scrutiny of potential ties to organized crime. The move comes as President Donald Trump presses for a sharp turn in overall US immigration policy.
Critics of the administration view the additional screening measures as part of President Trump’s broader goal of limiting all forms of immigration to the United States, especially from majority-Muslim countries.
Earlier this month, Trump proposed to end the 27-year-old green card lottery program, which aims to diversify the source of immigrants, leading to an increase in those from West Asian and African countries.
The Trump administration had banned refugees from 10 Muslim-majority nations and North Korea in October 2017.
Though the 11 countries have not been identified officially, reports state that they include nations such as Egypt, Iran, Libya, South Sudan, Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, Mali, North Korea, Somalia and Syria.
Among these nations, all excluding North Korea and South Sudan are Muslim-majority.