By Caroline May for The Daily Caller

The Obama administration has issued new exemptions to a law that bars certain asylum-seekers and refugees who provided “limited material support” to terrorists who are believed to pose no threat from the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security and the State Department published the new exemptions Wednesday in the Federal Register to narrow a ban in the Immigration and Nationality Act excluding refugees and asylum seekers who had provided limited material support, no matter how minor, to terrorists.

“These exemptions cover five kinds of limited material support that have adversely and unfairly affected refugees and asylum seekers with no tangible connection to terrorism: material support that was insignificant in amount or provided incidentally in the course of everyday social, commercial, family or humanitarian interactions, or under significant pressure,” a DHS official explained to The Daily Caller.

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry signed the exemptions.

DHS contends that the law change is “commonsense” and that immigration procedures will remain the same in other respects.

“In addition to rigorous background vetting, including checks coordinated across several government agencies, these exemptions will only be applied on a case-by-case basis after careful review and all security checks have cleared,” the official added. “This exemption process is vital to advancing the U.S. government’s twin goal of protecting the world’s most vulnerable persons while ensuring U.S. national security and public safety.”

While the administration says the rule change is reasonable, former State Department official and current director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration StudiesJessica Vaughan questioned the administration’s right to unilaterally change the law.

“[T]here is a very legitimate question as to whether the administration actually has the authority to change the law in this way,” Vaughan wrote in an email to TheDC. “It seems to me that they are announcing that they will be disregarding yet another law written by Congress that they don’t like and are replacing it with their own guidelines, which in this case appear to be extremely broad and vague, and which are sure to be exploited by those seeking to game our generous refugee admissions program.”

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