President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order that lifts his worldwide temporary ban on refugees entering the United States, but imposes “extreme vetting” for 11 nations.
Trump signed the order Tuesday to restart the refugee admission program, which was suspended for 120 days as part of his controversial travel ban.
The new directive initiates a new 90-day review program for 11 countries which the administration has previously deemed “high risk,” according to a memo obtained by Reuters.
The administration did not disclose the 11 countries, but reports suggest the delay in processing would apply to Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, North Korea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
All those countries are majority-Muslim, except for North Korea and South Sudan.
Refugee admissions from those nations will be permitted on a case-by-case basis to determine if an entry “poses no threat to the security or welfare of the United States
Under the new measures, authorities will now consider biographic data from refugee applicants and analyze their social media presence.
Refugee advocates said the new measures amounted to a de facto ban on refugees from those countries, since refugees are already heavily vetted.
The administration will also suspend a program that allows for family reunification for some refugees resettled in the US.
The new refugee order came as the previous moratorium expired on Tuesday.
Trump has issued three travel bans since coming to office in January. His third ban, which was announced September 24 and slated to take effect on October 18, was blocked by a judge in Hawaii.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration appealed US District Judge Derrick Watson’s opinion issued last week. Government lawyers filed court documents, taking the case to the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which has blocked both of the president’s previous bans.
Critics argue that the bans were aimed at barring Muslims from the United States, in line with Trump’s campaign promises. The administration has denied the measures discriminate on the basis of religion or ethnicity.