Australia will transfer refugees to US after Trump takes office

The deal struck between the two countries is expected to provide an early test of Trump’s strict immigration stance.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Australia faces a growing outrage both at home and internationally over its treatment of the refugees.

A deal struck between Australia and the US to relocate 1,200 asylum seekers will come into effect after President-elect Donald Trump's inauguration in January, the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Monday.

Whether Trump honours the deal Australia reached with the outgoing Obama administration, announced earlier this month, will provide an early test of Trump's strict immigration stance.

Trump's hard-line immigration stance was a central part of his election campaign.

During his campaign for the presidency, Trump had started by advocating a blanket ban on Muslims entering the US. However, he later adjusted his stance to propose that the ban should apply to people from nations that had been "compromised by terrorism."

The resettlement deal between the two countries came earlier this month after Australia agreed to accept people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as part of its annual intake of 18,750 asylum seekers.

In exchange, Washington promised to take in almost 1,300 refugees held at detention camps in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, many of whom are Muslims who have fled conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Under Australia's tough border security laws, asylum seekers trying to reach the country by boat are intercepted and sent for processing at the camps on Manus and Nauru islands.

According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, refugees in Nauru “suffer severe abuse, inhumane treatment, and neglect.” (Photo by Amnesty International)

Analysts said the timing could prove awkward for Turnbull.

"It looks pretty clear that the resettlement deal was done as a quid pro quo after Australia agreed to resettle Central American refugees," said Peter Chen, professor of political science, University of Sydney.

"But by holding off and starting the process in the expectation that Hillary Clinton would win the U.S. presidency, it gives Trump the ability to reject the deal."

Over the weekend, Trump said his administration would deport up to 3 million immigrants, who are in the country illegally and have criminal records. While campaigning, Trump said he would deport 11 million illegal immigrants.

TRTWorld and agencies