President Donald Trump cited a need for extreme vetting of refugees seeking entrance to the United States when he signed an executive order Friday, Jan. 27, establishing a 120-day moratorium on the admission of refugees.
The Anti-Defamation League promised a relentless battle against the directive. American Jewish Committee criticized the blanket suspensions of visas and refugee admissions but backed the insistence on thorough vetting, The Times of Israel reported.
“Resettlement is considered a durable solution for refugees who cannot return to their countries of origin or integrate into the current country that is hosting them,” the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants says, adding that it is a lifesaving option given to less than 0.5 percent of the world’s refugees.
Here’s the existing 13-step clearance process for people seeking refugee status in the United States, according to the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants:
- Step 1 — In most cases the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees determines that a person qualifies as a refugee under international law. A refugee has fled from his or her home country and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution based on religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
- Step 2 — A refugee who meets one of the criteria for resettlement in the United States is referred by the UNHCR, a U.S. Embassy or a trained nongovernmental organization.
- Step 3 — A resettlement support center contracted by the State Department compiles the refugee’s personal data and background information.
- Step 4 — Security checks are conducted, using the information collected by the resettlement support center. The State Department runs all refugees referred for resettlement through a Consular Lookout and Support System name check. Enhanced interagency security checks have been applied to all refugee applicants since 2010.
- Step 5 — During those security checks, some refugees go through an additional security review called a security advisory opinion. These refugees require clearance from a number of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
- Step 6 — Refugees who meet the minimum age requirement have their fingerprints and photographs taken. The fingerprints are checked against various U.S. government databases, and the Department of Homeland Security reviews any matches.
- Step 7 — An officer from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security, conducts a detailed, face-to-face interview with each applicant, usually in the country of asylum. Based on the information in the case file and on the interview, the officer determines whether the person qualifies as a refugee and is admissible under U.S. law.
- Step 8 — If the applicant qualifies as a refugee and meets other admission criteria, the officer conditionally approves the application for resettlement and submits it to the State Department for final processing, pending clearance on the security checks in Steps 4, 5 and 6.
- Step 9 — The International Organization for Migration or a physician designated by the U.S. Embassy conducts a medical screening of each approved applicant.
- Step 10 — Every refugee is assigned to a voluntary agency in the United States, such as the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, which then places the refugee with a local partner agency or office for assistance upon arrival.
- Step 11 — While awaiting final processing, refugees are offered cultural orientation to prepare them for the journey to and initial resettlement in the United States.
- Step 12 — For most refugees, a second interagency check is conducted for any new information. Refugees must clear this check to depart for the United States.
- Step 13 — At one of five U.S. airports designated as ports of entry for refugee admissions, a Customs and Border Protection officer reviews the refugee documentation and conducts additional security checks to ensure that the person arriving is the refugees who was screened and approved for admission to the United States.