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    A view of the Homeland Security Department headquarters in northwest Washington, Friday, June 5, 2015

    US Announces Tougher Screening For Refugees from 11 Nations

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    Refugees from 11 "high risk" countries will face enhanced screening measures when trying to enter America, the US Department of Homeland Security said Monday.

    The countries included in the list have not been specified. 

    "We will be rolling out new security measures for applicants from high-risk countries, which will seek to prevent the [refugee] program from being exploited by terrorists, criminals and fraudsters," DHS Secretary Kirtjen Nielsen said Monday at an event in Washington, adding that the changes "will not only improve security, but importantly, they will help us better assist legitimate refugees fleeing prosecution."

    The US has worked with countries around the world to reach agreements on the sharing of counterterrorism data. "The handful of nations that have failed to comply are subject to tough but tailored travel restrictions," the homeland security secretary said. Those countries, however, will have the ability to work with the US to "reach the baseline" and presumably be taken off the list. 

    Nielsen clarified that the "restrictions have nothing to do with race or religion," but instead are an issue of "information sharing and knowing who as an individual is coming into our country."

    The recommendations for tougher screening measures follow a request by President Donald Trump in late October that DHS, the State Department and the Director of National Intelligence together "determine whether to modify or terminate any actions taken to address the security risks posed by refugee admissions, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law."

    Trump paused refugee admissions for four months last year, and the screening processes were reviewed over a 90-day period that expired last week. A judge blocked part of the restrictions for refugees with significant family ties in the US in late December. Since the judge's December 23 ruling, 23 refugees from the 11 countries listed in the previous travel ban have been admitted to the US, State Department records show. It is not clear whether the 11 countries included in the new list for tougher screening are the same countries subject to the DHS, State Department and ODNI review.

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