872 Refugees Get Good News

Those already 'in transit' when Trump's travel ban went down issued waivers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2017 8:01 AM CST
Waivers Issued for 872 Refugees
Syrian refugees sit during an official welcome ceremony at Rome's Fiumicino international airport on Monday. Italian government and church officials have welcomed 41 Syrian refugees at Rome's airport, saying they wanted to show solidarity at a time when the United States is sending refugees away.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

President Trump's travel ban remains in place, but nearly 900 refugees are getting a reprieve. Per a Department of Homeland Security document seen by Reuters, the State Department and DHS have OKed 872 waivers for refugees who were already "in transit" when Trump's order left his desk Friday, leaving scores stuck at airports around the world. The document doesn't mention what countries the refugees originate from, but an anonymous DHS official confirms the waivers and says those who will benefit from them had already gone through the stringent US vetting procedure, which usually takes about two years. Trump's order put a stop to all refugee entry for 120 days (Syrian refugees indefinitely), and put tough limitations on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The point of temporarily suspending the refugee program here, per the most recent update to the DHS website, is to give DHS and "interagency partners" the chance to "review screening procedures." Reuters notes that refugees fleeing to the US have often given everything up back home (homes, jobs, possessions), meaning it could be especially problematic to send them back to their originating countries. Per the DHS document, 348 visa holders were kept from getting onto US-bound planes over the weekend, while over 200 people made it into US airports but were then detained. Nearly 740 people were questioned by US Customs and Border Protection authorities at the airports—almost 400 of them being legal US green-card holders. The DHS official who spoke to Reuters says it's not clear if more waivers will be issued. (Here, stories of those stranded by the ban.)

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