With the 100-day mark of the Trump administration fast approaching, President Trump has fallen short of keeping his campaign promise to stop the inflow of Syrian refugees, as well as to overhaul the refugee vetting process.
On Jan. 27, President Trump sought to keep his promise by signing an executive order to temporarily ban refugees from seven countries deemed by the Obama administration to be havens of terrorism. The order was subsequently halted on Feb. 3 by a federal district judge in Washington state.
Trump then signed a second executive order on Mar. 5, also aiming to temporarily ban refugees. This, too, was stopped by federal district judges in Maryland and Hawaii.
Since his second executive order was halted, Trump and his administration do not appear to be finding other avenues to stopping Syrian refugee resettlement. In addition, although both executive orders advised that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) begin an analysis into tightening up refugee vetting procedures, improvements have yet to be reported or seen.
Failure to slow down the refugee crisis or improve the vetting process could be due, in large part, to holdover Obama administration personnel at the highest levels in the two agencies responsible for the amount and type of refugees coming into the United States — namely, the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations Directorate (RAIO) of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the DHS, and the State Department’s Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration (PRM).
In power at these agencies are career open-border activists who strongly support the Obama administration’s pro-refugee policies — acting assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of PRM, Simon Henshaw, and newly named associate director of RAIO, Jennifer Higgins.
The holdover of these Obama-era members has had consequences on Trump’s actions, such as bowing down to a federal district judge’s decision on how many refugees could enter the country, a move the Trump administration didn’t have to allow.
Breitbart reported: “The move confounded critics of the refugee resettlement program who supported President Trump through the campaign and his issuance of the two Executive Orders that have been halted by the decisions by federal judges in Washington, Hawaii, and Maryland.”
On a positive note, in March, President Trump appointed Scott Lloyd, a former attorney for the Knights of Columbus, as director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and Human Services.
In addition, Attorney General Jeff Sessions continues to staff the Department of Justice with attorneys who will not back down in court when defending the Trump administration’s refugee policies.
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