The State Department has more than doubled the rate of refugees from Iraq, Syria and other suspect countries in the week since a federal judge’s reprieve, in what analysts said appears to be a push to admit as many people as possible before another court puts the program back on ice.
A staggering 77 percent of the 1,100 refugees let in since Judge James L. Robart’s Feb. 3 order have been from the seven suspect countries. Nearly a third are from Syria alone — a country that Mr. Trump has ordered be banned altogether from the refugee program. Another 21 percent are from Iraq. By contrast, in the two weeks before Judge Robart’s order, just 9 percent of refugees were from Syria and 6 percent were from Iraq.
“There’s no doubt in my mind they would be doing whatever they could to get people in before something changes because, from their perspective, their motivation is to resettle these folks. It would not be the first time that State Department officials have prioritized facilitating someone’s entry to the United States over security concerns,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies.
Mr. Trump issued an executive order Jan. 27 putting in place the early stages of his extreme vetting policy, including an immediate 90-day pause on admitting visitors from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen — all countries where the government says it can’t be sure of its vetting procedures.
The executive order also called for an immediate 120-day halt to admitting refugees from anywhere around the globe. Mr. Trump singled out Syria in particular, saying refugees from there are halted indefinitely.