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EO Update: Resumption of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

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On October 24, 2017, the President issued Executive Order 13815 entitled, “Resuming the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) with Enhanced Vetting Capabilities.” As the title suggests, the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program also known as (USRAP) is no longer suspended and the policies set forth in section 6(a) of Executive Order 13780 also known as “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the US,” are no longer in effect as they pertain to refugees. As outlined in Executive Order 13780, beginning October 24, 2017, “Presidential action to suspend the entry of refugees under the USRAP [is no longer needed] to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people.”

Section 6(a) of Executive Order 13780 imposed a temporary freeze on the admission of refugees to the United States, and provided for a temporary 120-day window in which the Department of Homeland Security would review the application and adjudication process for the Refugee Admissions Program to prevent foreign terrorist entry to the United States. This 120-day window expired on October 24, 2017. Section 6(a) contained a provision which stipulated that refugee travel and application decisions would resume after the 120-day window had terminated, “for stateless persons and for nationals of countries which the Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence jointly determine that the additional procedures identified through the USRAP review process are adequate to ensure the security and welfare of the United States.”

At this time, the Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence have advised the Trump administration that sufficient improvements have been made to prevent foreign terrorist entry through the Refugee Admissions Program, such as the implementation of enhanced vetting procedures. These improvements have been deemed sufficient to ensure the “security and welfare of the United States,” for the time being. In accordance with this order, the Department of Homeland Security will only apply special measures restricting the travel of refugees to those categories of refugees that “pose potential threats to the security and welfare of the United States.”

At this time, the Secretary of State has been instructed to resume travel of refugees who are qualified and have been sufficiently vetted to gain admission to the United States. In addition, the Secretary of Homeland Security has been instructed to resume the adjudication of applications for refugee resettlement.

Within 90 days of October 24, 2017, and on an annual basis thereafter, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State and Director of National Intelligence must prepare a report to determine whether the admission of certain categories of refugees should be modified or terminated, and act in accordance with those determinations.

In addition, within 180 days of October 24, 2017, the Attorney General must prepare a report in consultation with the aforementioned governmental bodies, and in cooperation with the heads of other governmental bodies, detailing “the effect of refugee resettlement in the United States on the national security, public safety, and general welfare of the United States” including recommendations of the Attorney General to advance those interests.

To read Executive Order 13815 please click here.