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Of all the doors into the United States, the one that refugees must pass through is perhaps the most closely guarded of all: The years-long application process involves long interviews, background checks and health screenings. Refugees’ inked fingerprints are checked against databases maintained by the FBI, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

New developments in biometrics may add yet more steps to this process: An eyeball scan is likely to become protocol within weeks, and Homeland Security is developing a quick-turnaround DNA test that can be used in field offices.

These technological advances are arriving just as the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and last month’s deadly attack on Paris has stirred a national debate over whether the U.S. should accept refugees from Syria. Already, more than two dozen U.S. governors have said they do not want Syrian refugees to relocate into their states. And following the attack, a bipartisan majority in the House passed legislation that would require the Department of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence and the FBI to each sign off on security clearances for... see more