Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that USA has agreed to take a substantial number of refugees currently residing in the Pacific Islands of Manus and Nauru. Among the 1200 residents of the detention centres in these islands, many will be transferred to the US after president- elect Trump’s inauguration that is scheduled to be held in January.
Earlier this year, Australian government consented to participate in Washington’s plan of relocating Central American refugees, agreeing to take in refugees from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as increasing the amount of refugee intake from 5000 to 18750 each year. Although many suspect the US agreeing to intake Australian migrants is linked this earlier incident from September, Minister Turnbull claimed, at the time, that this agreement to take American refugees was not linked with any other resettling arrangements.
Regardless of the existence of a link, heavy scepticism surrounds the latter deal. Many refugees in Australian holding facilities are Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. President-elect Trump has not been private or even shy about his negative stance on immigration, which is only shadowed by his stance on the followers of Islam faith.
Australia has severely tightened its refugee intake policy from June 2013 when any refugees arriving by boat were not welcomed and redirected to Pacific Islands of Nauru and Papa New Guinea, who are paid by the Australian government to host asylums for such refugees. This step served its purpose as within 2014 the Australian Border Force has been successful in stopping anyone smuggled in by boat. Currently they are increasing their efforts to prevent such incidents as being transferred to US is anticipated to act as a lure to many. In fact, to stop this from happening, Minister Turnbull announced that any new arrivals will be ineligible for transfer.
The deal with USA is an attempt to empty the Pacific Island detention centres, as the centres have faced heavy criticism for violation of human rights, being hailed as Australia’s own Guantanamo Bay.
Despite the agreement, many experts believe that there is a high possibility of Trump administration backing out of the agreement later as the move will be unlikely to gain support from the Republicans or even most Democrats and will ultimately be a failed deal.