For Immediate Release
DHS Press Office
WASHINGTON— Senior Administration officials spoke by phone today with state and local law enforcement representatives from across the country to provide information on the U.S.’s stringent refugee admissions policies and security screening measures. Officials on the call included Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas; Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Simon Henshaw; U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske; and FBI National Security Branch Executive Assistant Director John Giacalone.
State and local law enforcement officials were briefed on the rigorous screening and security vetting process that is required before a refugee is able to travel to the United States. Over 200 state and local law enforcement officials participated in the call.
Administration officials reiterated that their top priority and that of their agencies is the safety of the American people. Deputy Secretary Mayorkas underscored that even as the United States accepts more refugees – including Syrians – these refugees must undergo a multi-layered vetting process that constitutes the highest level of security screening of any category of traveler to the United States. This security screening process includes the involvement of the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State and the Department of Defense.
Officials discussed the respective and complementary roles that their agencies play in the refugee security screening process, as well as the additional security screening that has been put in place that is specific to Iraqi and Syrian refugees, given the circumstances in those two countries. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Henshaw explained the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, stating that the Departments of State and Homeland Security coordinate on security checks for the program’s applicants. FBI National Security Branch Executive Assistant Director Giacalone discussed the security checks that are provided by the FBI and emphasized that overall the refugee security screening and vetting process has been significantly enhanced over the past few years. Additionally, the officials reiterated their commitment to continue to monitor security screening processes and protocols to make sure we have the strongest safeguards in place to ensure the safety and security of the American people, while continuing to serve as a beacon of hope for those fleeing violence and persecution.
CBP Commissioner Kerlikowske addressed how once a refugee is approved for arrival in the United States, he/she undergoes a final security check by CBP that includes an analysis of biographic and biometric information against a broad array of law enforcement and intelligence community databases.
Deputy Secretary Mayorkas stressed that the United States prioritizes admitting the most vulnerable refugees, particularly those who are survivors of violence and torture along with women and children. He emphasized that in this endeavor the Department of Homeland Security is committed to working with our international allies, interagency partners, and state and local law enforcement to ensure the protection of some of the world’s most vulnerable people and the security of the American public.
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