A deal between Obama and the Australian government to resettle refugees in the United States is in jeopardy after officials interviewing the refugees “abruptly” walked out.
As per Reuters:
U.S. officials interviewing refugees held in an Australian-run offshore detention center left the facility abruptly, three detainees told Reuters on Saturday, throwing further doubt over a plan to resettle many of the detainees in America.
U.S. officials halted screening interviews and departed the Pacific island of Nauru on Friday, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the United States had reached its annual refugee intake cap.
“U.S. (officials) were scheduled to be on Nauru until July 26 but they left on Friday,” one refugee told Reuters, requesting anonymity as he did not want to jeopardize his application for U.S. resettlement.
In the United States, a senior member of the union that represents refugee officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a Department of Homeland Security agency, told Reuters his own trip to Nauru was not going forward as scheduled.
Jason Marks, chief steward of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, told Reuters his trip has now been pushed back and it was unclear whether it will actually happen. The USCIS did not respond to requests for comment.
President Trump has voiced his strong disapproval of the deal, telling Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull that the deal was “dumb.”
According to the Guardian UK:
Donald Trump has torn into the US agreement to resettle refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centres, calling it a “dumb deal” and describing the refugees as illegal immigrants.
Trump took to Twitter to voice his displeasure at a deal he had pledged to uphold in a phone call with the Australian prime minister on Sunday.
“Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal.”
Less than two hours previously, the US State Department had insisted the deal was on in response to a Washington Post report of a fraught phone call between Trump and Australia’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
“President Trump’s decision to honour the refugee agreement has not changed,” a US embassy spokesperson in Canberra said in a statement.
The deal brokered between former president Barack Obama and Turnbull originally forecast the resettlement of up to 1,250 refugees from Australia’s offshore detention islands of Manus Island and Nauru.
Nobody can say that the Trump administration did not attempt to honor the agreement. Vice-President Pence assured Australia that the U.S. would go ahead with the agreement after President Trump voiced his displeasure with it.
FOX 59 reports:
US Vice President Mike Pence said Saturday that the United States would “honor” a refugee resettlement agreement forged with Australia in the closing days of the Obama administration, despite it previously being described by US President Donald Trump as a “dumb deal.”
Pence made the commitment — subject to the refugees passing stringent US vetting procedures — at a joint news conference in Sydney with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, with whom Trump reportedly had a testy first call because of the refugee issue.
Under the arrangement, agreed by former US President Barack Obama and Turnbull in November within days of Trump’s election, Australia would transfer up to 1,250 refugees currently held in offshore detention centers on the Pacific Island nation of Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island to the United States. Many are from Iran.