US deal inadequate and uncertain

| June 28, 2017 | Reply

The Coalition government’s proposed resettlement deal with the US is an admission that Manus and Nauru are a dead end. But this band-aid deal is inadequate and uncertain.

Since December, US officials have been conducting interviews with people on Manus Island and Nauru. But the election of racist Donald Trump as President has put a question mark over how many of the refugees the US will accept.

The deal does not include all refugees on Manus and Nauru. The White House has now confirmed that the US has set a cap of 1250 refugees, though whether even that number will be accepted is unclear. There are already over 1650 recognised refugees on Nauru and Manus Island, with more still to be processed. It is obvious that hundreds of people are going to be left behind by the deal, even if it goes through. Australia’s cruel offshore detention regime will remain in place.

Trump’s executive order aimed at restricting refugees and Muslim migrants from the US showed his racism

Follow-up security interviews involving new “extreme vetting” procedures and then medical checks must conclude before the US accepts anyone under the deal. A small number of people on Nauru and Manus have had these second interviews and medical checks. At the end of June around 40 on Manus had finished medical checks. Reuters has reported that a decision on the first 70 people on Nauru is likely by the end of June.

It is likely some refugees will head to the US in the coming months, with refugee agencies saying this could happen by the end of September. But Turnbull has said it could take until 2019 to complete the process – that means three more years of hell for refugees who have already been imprisoned for three years.

More questions

Questions also remain about the 350 vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees brought to Australia for serious medical issues, or because they have been raped, or assaulted. They are cruelly being told they must go back to Nauru and wait to be considered for transfer to the US.

The Immigration Department has confirmed that Australia is not currently negotiating with any other countries for refugee resettlement options for those left behind by the US deal. The government must stop shirking its responsibility and stop paying millions of dollars to bribe poorer neighbouring countries to take refugees from our detention centres (like the six people who went to Cambodia in exchange for $55 million).

A majority of Australians now support the idea that refugees on Manus and Nauru should be brought to Australia. We must continue to insist that they have the right to come here.

The strength of the refugee campaign pushed Turnbull into announcing the resettlement deal with the US. We need to keep fighting until Manus and Nauru are shut for good. It’s time to bring them here now.

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Category: Fact sheet

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