The United States and Australia are close to announcing a deal in which the U.S. would resettle hundreds of asylum seekers banished by Australia to Pacific island camps. Obama will accept up to 1,800 refugees held for up to three years at Australia’s expense in camps on the impoverished island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea, where the Muslim invaders have been rioting and burning down buildings.
FOX News (h/t Jo P) Such an agreement struck with the Obama administration could be opposed by President-elect Donald Trump, who has called for a moratorium or tight restrictions on Muslim immigration. Most of the asylum seekers are Muslims from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.
Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull declined to comment on negotiations with the United States.
Almost 1,300 asylum seekers are on Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Hundreds more have come to the Australia for medical treatment and have taken court action to prevent them being send back to the islands. Few refugees have accepted offers to resettle in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia because most hope that Australia will eventually take them in.
Australia refuses to resettle any refugee who has arrived by boat since the date the tough policy was announced, July 19, 2013.
Rebecca Gardner, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Australia, would not comment on the newspaper report, saying the State Department did not “comment on or discuss diplomatic negotiations.”
Senior government minister Christopher Pyne praised the prospect of such an agreement being finalized before the Obama administration ends.
The opposition center-left Labor Party criticized a previous deal struck between Australia and the United States in 2007 to swap refugees, arguing that the prospect of U.S. resettlement would attract more asylum seekers to Australian shores.
Immigration Department Secretary Chief Michael Pezzullo told a parliamentary committee on Friday that “today we are closer than we were yesterday” to resettling asylum seekers from Nauru and Papua New Guinea.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said this week he was looking for countries that will accept all asylum seekers bound for Australia, including those who have had their refugee claims rejected but refuse to go home. Iran won’t take back Iranians who won’t to go home voluntarily.