State, DHS encouraged to strengthen refugee screenings
This summer, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) published a report examining the U.S. Refugee Admission Program (USRAP).
According to the report, “Increases in the number of USRAP applicants approved for resettlement in the United States from countries where terrorists operate have raised questions about the adequacy of applicant screening.” To address this concern, GAO reviewed data and policies from the Departments of State and Homeland Security (DHS), looked into DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policies and procedures for adjudicating refugee applications, and analyzed the extent to which State and USCIS are able to prevent applicant fraud.
GAO found that while State caseworkers generally adhere to State guidelines and that State has policies and procedures for processing refugee applications, State has not established outcome based-performance measures. GAO also found that USCIS has policies and procedures in place for adjudicating applications, but could improve training. USCIS could also benefit from regular quality assurance assessments.
GAO recommends that State develop outcome-based indicators to measure performance and monitor against these measures. USCIS was encouraged to enhance training of temporary officers, develop a plan to deploy additional officers with national security expertise, and conduct regular quality assurance assessments. GAO also recommended that State and DHS jointly conduct regular fraud risk assessments. Both State and DHS concurred with GAO’s recommendations
For more information about GAO-17-706, please follow the link below.
GAO-17-706, Refugees: Actions Needed by State Department and DHS to Further Strengthen Applicant Screening Process and Assess Fraud Risks
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