The Trump administration announced Tuesday evening that it is restarting the resettlement of refugees in America following a months-long freeze that saw U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials crafting a stricter vetting process to stop the flow of criminals and terrorists into America, according to senior administration officials.
The Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the State Department and Director of National Intelligence, announced a strict new set of vetting tools aimed at stopping refugees with criminal and terrorist histories from entering the United States, according to the officials.
However, after a 120-day review of U.S. security flaws, the administration has created a list of 11 high-risk countries that will undergo further vetting and security reviews. Officials would not name the countries included on that list, but described them as posing increased risk to America.
These "enhanced screening measures" will focus on raising security standards "across the board," according to Trump administration officials.
The enhanced procedures come after years of criticism by lawmakers and security experts who blamed the Obama administration for making it easier for criminals and potential terrorists to enter the United States under cover as a refugee.
President Donald Trump campaigned on freezing the refugee program until U.S. authorities enhance screening methods.
The new vetting procedures come as the Trump administration restarts the refugee resettlement program, which will be subject to increased security protocols.
Trump's original executive order mandated the U.S. government assess, review, and update its vetting procedures.
Platforms such as social media and classified databases will now be used to vet individuals to determine the accuracy of their refugee claims.
While administration officials would not discuss in-depth the enhanced procedures out of concerns about the sensitivity of these new measures, officials told reporters that new biographic security checks will go into action.
This is meant to further determine the veracity of claims made by those applying for refugee status to the United States
Additionally, new fraud detection officers will be deployed overseas to assist those officials already vetting individuals.
Officials are making it a priority to crackdown on drug offenders, human traffickers, smugglers, and those tied to terror organizations and movements.
"It's not in our interest to bring people into our country with views hostile to the United States," said one senior administration official, who said these types of individuals likely would not pass revamped security procedures.
An additional 90-day review of the 11 countries deemed particularly hostile to the United States will now be carried out. Individuals from these countries seeking to enter the United States will be forced to clear even stricter hurdles to be granted entrance to America, including having to prove their admission is in the interests of the United States.
The additional review will focus on addressing the threat of these 11 nationalities, according to officials.