Homeland Security will demand more information from applicants from high-risk countries before accepting them as refugees, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced Monday as she defended President Trump’s steps on immigration and visitor screening.
Ms. Nielsen also highlighted a recent report that found the government weeds out an average of seven travelers each day — 50 a week — who are on the terrorist watch-list yet still try to enter the U.S.
Speaking at the Wilson Center, the new secretary also asked for support for Mr. Trump’s border wall and his broader immigration plans, as part of ongoing discussions on Capitol Hill on a deal to legalize illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”
“We cannot let this moment slip away. Now is the time,” she said. “We cannot afford to kick the can down the road any farther.”
Ms. Nielsen said past administrations had not been as strenuous in attempting to weed out would-be terrorists as the current one, and pointed to a string of attacks dating back five years — to the heart of the Obama administration.
And she again cited a controversial administration report that found of more than 500 people convicted of terrorism-related crimes in U.S. courts since 2001, three-quarters were foreign-born.
She said that was a reason to stiffen controls on who’s admitted.
In terms of refugees, she said applicants will face more screening if they come from “high-risk” countries. She didn’t describe the changes, but said they will be beneficial.
“These changes will not only improve security but importantly they will help us better assist refugees fleeing persecution,” she said.