UPDATE - Secretary of State Tillerson defends new refugee screening process

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WASHINGTON (AP) — 11:12 a.m.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the United States is taking new steps to "eliminate vulnerabilities" in the refugee screening process that could be exploited by "those who would bring harm to our homeland."

Tillerson is defending President Donald Trump's executive order allowing refugee admissions to resume under new, stricter screening rules. The order also requires nationals from 11 undisclosed countries to face even tougher scrutiny.

Tillerson says the Trump administration is committed to a "comprehensive and compassionate refugee policy." He says the new steps will ensure the U.S. can keep helping vulnerable people throughout the world "without compromising the safety and security of the American people."

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3:46 a.m.

President Donald Trump has allowed the resumption of refugee admissions into the U.S. under new, stricter screening rules but ordered nationals from 11 countries believed to pose higher risk to U.S. national security to face even tougher scrutiny.

Officials refused to identify the 11 countries, but said refugee applications from those nations will be judged case-by-case.

Trump issued his new order on refugee screening Tuesday as the administration's four-month ban on refugee admissions expired. It directs federal agencies to resume refugee processing, which he clamped down on shortly after taking office.