There are a few less than desirable things left over from the Obama White House. One of the oddest things left over is an agreement with Australia to take those who are caught at sea seeking asylum in Australia. Before President Trump being elected, the two countries made a deal that allowed 1,250 asylum seekers to be shipped to the United States. Even though Trump describes the pact as a “dumb deal,” he is honoring the agreement none the less.
The 1,250 men and women are currently being held in less than favorable detention centers in the Pacific. As a recent report explained:
“Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday the first group of about 50 men and woman held in two controversial detention centers for asylum-seekers on remote Pacific islands will be resettled in the United States within weeks.
The comments mark the first official timetable for when the United States will begin resettling up to 1,250 people held in Australian-run centers on Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus island as part of a refugee swap deal struck by former U.S. President Barack Obama late last year.”
Australia will begin resettling several dozen Central American refugees within weeks under the deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has described as “dumb” but has nevertheless said Washington would honor.
“There will be about 25 from both Manus and Nauru will be going to the United States, and I just want to thank President Trump again for continuing with that arrangement,” Turnbull said in a video statement.”
The agreement was originally forged among complaints about the living conditions at the detention centers and as the Australian government fought not to allow those cause trying to sneak into Australia to come onto the mainland. According to a news story about the refugee policy of Australia, under their:
“…hardline immigration policy, asylum-seekers intercepted at sea trying to reach Australia are sent for processing at the Manus island and Nauru camps. They are told they will never be settled in Australia.”
Instead of taking them to Australia to process, these men and women are taken to detention centers. In many cases, they spend years waiting to make it through the process and are told this process will not end with them being allowed into Australia.
Even though many of the refugees have spent years at these detention centers, there is all of the sudden urgent need to move them as one of the centers is scheduled to close at the end of October. Manus Island is closing, and there are currently about 800 men still there.
Complaints from both the United Nations and human rights groups have pressured Australia into finding other ways to address the refugee issue. The last-ditch agreement with the Obama White House to take the refugees was a way to buy time to clear them out before they were shut down for good.
With the urgency to clear out the centers, there is also a bit of caution at work as small groups are moved to the United States. They are currently moving those who they can verify their identity and need to asylum first. This means those that are coming from countries that have positive relations with the United States get priority at this point.
Validating refugee claims for some countries can be an issue is there is a lack of communication between the two nations. An example of this is explained in a recent report about vetting refugees:
“While Trump has said he would honor the swap agreement, concerns remain about how many asylum-seekers will be resettled from the Australian-run centres.
Nearly 2,000 men, women and children are held on Manus island and Nauru, the majority of whom have been awarded refugee status by the two tiny Pacific countries.
Refugees and advocates cautioned against assuming the U.S. would take the full allotment, with its processing so far concentrated on individuals with applications that are both easier to verify through background checks and originate from citizens of nations with closer ties to the United States.
“Iranians are about a third of the refugees on Manus but are only about 10 percent of the ones interviewed so far,” said Ian Rintol, spokesman for the Refugee Action Coalition. “It seems there had been some discriminatory selection.”
U.S.-Iran relations have been strained under Trump, who called Tehran a “rogue nation” on Tuesday. As the two have no diplomatic ties, validating refugee claims is prohibitive.”