DHS Announces New ‘Risk-Based’ Refugee Resettlement Procedures

Refugee Resettlement
Felipe Dana/AP

Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen announced the results of a 90-day review of refugee resettlement policies Monday, indicating additional security measures will be put in place for certain claimants.

“It’s critically important that we know who is entering the United States,” Nielsen said in an accompanying press release. “These additional security measures will make it harder for bad actors to exploit our refugee program, and they will ensure we take a more risk-based approach to protecting the homeland.

“The United States must continue to fulfill its obligation to the global community to assist those facing persecution and do so in a manner that addresses the security of the American people,” Nielsen added.

The Department of Homeland Security’s new policies will include:

  • Additional screening for certain nationals of high-risk countries.
  • Administering the USRAP in a more risk-based manner when considering the overall refugee admissions ceiling, regional allocations, and the groups of applicants considered for resettlement.
  • A periodic review and update of the refugee high-risk country list and selection criteria.

DHS called the new measures “part of the administration’s ongoing efforts to intensify screening and vetting for all persons seeking to travel to the United States, and they are designed to keep nefarious and fraudulent actors from exploiting the refugee program to enter the United States.”

The review followed a 120-day pause on processing refugee applications instituted last year by President Donald Trump’s “extreme vetting” executive order. In October, the White House issued a second extreme vetting order, which restarted the refugee application system and prompted this review.

In addition to these extreme vetting measures, the Trump administration has also sought an overall reduction in refugee numbers. Last year saw dramatic reductions in refugee resettlement numbers from Barack Obama’s last year in office, when nearly 100,000 plurality Muslim refugees were settled in American communities. For 2018, a similar low cap is planned.


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