As you may recall, there was a dubious deal on the table with Australia, left over from the Obama administration, dealing with that nation’s “refugee” problem. We first covered it last November, barely a week after the election. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken a very firm stand on Islamic asylum seekers for the most part, wanting nothing to do with them. He’s got 1300 “refugees” holed up in Nauru and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island. They are primarily from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and Sri Lanka. At the time of the deal it was reported that John Kerry had been working on a plan which would have all of them exported to the United States.
After Trump was in office I began wondering what he planned to do about it. The President had gotten on the phone early with Turnbull and had what was variously described as either an acerbic or productive conversation (depending which leaked source you wanted to believe) but there were no specifics about the refugee deal given to the public. Turnbull is facing even more questions about it back home this week and Fox News is reporting that he doesn’t have much of an answer.
The future of hundreds of asylum seekers languishing at an Australian-run detention center in Papua New Guinea remains in doubt, with the leaders of both countries declining to provide details about what will happen to the men if a deal to resettle them in the United States falls through.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said during a visit to the Pacific island nation on Saturday that Papua New Guinea had made “significant progress” toward resettling the nearly 900 men at the Manus Island detention center. But Turnbull dodged questions about exactly where the government plans to send those men if the U.S. refuses to accept them under a deal struck by the Obama administration.
It sounds to me as if Trump has pretty much already walked away but neither of them wants to put out a public statement which would just undermine Turnbull’s administration back home. If there was “significant progress” being made in resettling them and it was here in the United States we’d know about it by now. We shouldn’t really be surprised, either. You’ll recall that back in the first days of the administration Trump was literally calling this plan a “dumb deal.” (The Guardian)
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.”
“I will study this dumb deal.”
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
Well, even though he’s been busy with many, many irons in the fire, President Trump has certainly had sufficient time to study the dumb deal by now or at least assign someone else the task and have them report back to him. Is the dumb deal a done deal? Or is it toast? The lack of response coming from the White House combined with the vague answers being given by Australia’s PM tell me that it’s more likely the latter. And if so, Turnbull must have found somebody else to take this problem off his hands. But who?