World Bulletin / News Desk
Since Malcolm Turnbull announced the “one-off” deal Sunday, questions have been raised about how many of the refugees detained on Nauru and Manus Island under Australia’s hardline immigration policy will be resettled, and whether the deal will endure once Trump is inaugurated in January.
“Until January 20 when Donald Trump is inaugurated, the President is Barack Obama and we deal with one administration at a time,” Turnbull told a national morning television show Monday.
“The United States is not taking any additional refugees here - the refugees that they take under this arrangement will be part of their overall quota,” he added.
Trump called for a ban on Muslim immigration during his election campaign, and many of the people detained on Manus and Nauru are reportedly from predominantly Muslim countries including Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.
Australia classifies asylum seekers who arrive by boat or plane without valid visas “illegal”.
The ABC reports that currently there are 872 people in Australia’s processing center on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and 390 people in the Nauru center. Australia’s immigration policy forbids any former Manus and Nauru detainee from ever settling in Australia.
On Monday, Turnbull said the resettlement process would “continue for some months” as the U.S. “won’t be shortcutting their security or health checks”.
He said U.S. officials would arrive in Australia this week and then travel to Nauru.
An official statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office Sunday notes that priority for resettlement will be given to “those who are most vulnerable, namely women, children and families”.
On Friday, the Green party's immigration spokesman expressed concern in a statement that Trump could "rip up" any resettlement agreement put in place.
"Reports of a deal with the U.S. lack any detail whatsoever, but the idea of sending Muslim refugees to Donald Trump's USA raises some concerns," Senator Nick McKim said.
In a new statement Monday, McKim stressed that the government “must end its secrecy over its ‘deal’” due to the lack of information “causing significant anxiety to people detained on Manus Island and Nauru".
"Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull needs to reveal how many people will be resettled in the United States, under what conditions, and how long will it take," he said.
“He should also reveal what he intends to do with people who will not be covered by the arrangement. Some people detained on Manus Island and Nauru have family in Australia, and the government has to date offered no hope for reunification,” he added.