The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a rather shocking deal which was apparently cooked up between Washington and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. You may recall that Turnbull has taken a strong and definitive stand when it comes to migrants or refugees from predominantly Islamic nations looking to make their way into his nation. He’s having none of it and Australia has set up some detention camps on islands off the coast of that continent where these uninvited guests are being housed after they are captured. The aforementioned deal is that at least some of them are being shipped off to the United States.
Some of the hundreds of refugees being held in Australia-backed Pacific island camps are to be resettled in the U.S. under a one-time deal between the countries.
The U.S. government has agreed to accept refugees being held in Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Sunday. Mr. Turnbull didn’t disclose how many were likely to resettled by the U.S. or on what terms, but he stressed the arrangement wouldn’t be repeated or be extended to asylum seekers not already in the camps.
The conservative government has maintained a tough line on asylum seekers who have sought to cross the dangerous waters between Asia and Australia but has moved to empty the offshore immigration detention centers that critics have called Australia’s “Guantanamo Bay.” Negotiations in recent months with various countries to resettle the refugees became more urgent in April when Papua New Guinea’s highest court ordered the closure of Manus, ruling that hundreds of asylum seekers were being held there illegally on Australia’s behalf.
We’re not even being told the total numbers who will shortly be making their way to our shores, but the Journal notes that two of the camps located on Naru and Manus Islands currently hold a combined total of more than 1,300 of them. And where do these migrants come from? The majority are from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka. That’s just great.
The only official who is quoted as having spoken about this deal is John Kerry, but it’s unclear if or how heavily he was involved in the negotiations. It would be beyond belief to assume that something like this was cooked up without the President signing off on it. Was anyone in Congress notified? And if so, why haven’t they spoken up? This news carries far more questions than answers.
Turnbull, for his part, was sometimes referred to as “Australia’s Donald Trump” when he was running for office. He has praised Trump in the past and was quick to congratulate him on his election victory this week, noting how they were “both businessmen” who could probably work together productively. But this deal had to have been worked up with the Obama administration. Will Donald Trump be as receptive to the plan? If not, that might get the Trump administration off to a rocky start with our friends down under.