US deal inadequate and uncertain

| June 28, 2017 | Reply

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

The election of racist Donald Trump as President has put a question mark over how many of the refugees the US will accept. Progress has been appallingly slow. When the second lot of transfers are completed by the end of February 2018, just 230 people on Manus and Nauru will have made it to the US in the 15 months since the deal was announced. This leaves around 1800 refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.

The White House has confirmed that the US has set a cap of 1250 refugees, though whether even that number will be accepted is unclear. This means that, even in a best case scenario, hundreds of people are going to be left behind by the deal. 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

Trump travel ban meant that Iranians, Somalis, Sudanese and Syrian refugees were barred from the most recent intake. While the travel ban has now expired, doubts remain about whether refugees from these countries will gain acceptance, after the announcement of additional security screening for refugees from these countries. Iranians make up the largest single nationality group in the offshore camps.

Malcolm Turnbull has said it could take until 2019 to complete the process – which means two 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. And it has refused New Zealand’s offer to accept 150 of the refugees. 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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