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Remember the agreement that was reached late last year between the Turnbull Government and the Obama Administration to resettle asylum-seekers who are currently being held in detention on Nauru and on Manus Island in the US?
Remember that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull confidently asserted that the agreement was one between Australia and the US, and that the agreement would therefore surely be honoured by the incoming “Trump Administration”?
Even though many of the people who are being held on Manus and Nauru are from Iraq and Afghanistan and are Muslim?
Even though Mr Trump called for a “complete and total shutdown of Muslin immigration into the United States” until “we can figure out what the hell is going on”? (His words – notwithstanding that a “religious test” for the settlement of asylum seekers into the US would be very problematic legally?
Well, it looks like the prediction made on this blog that there would be serious obstacles to the implementation of the resettlement agreement once the “Trump Administration” was inaugurated seems very likely to be proven true.
An article in this morning’s (9 January 2017) Sydney Morning Herald indicates that there is a very high likelihood that the Trump Administration will seek to block the implementation of the agreement.
The article quotes statements from a Texas Congressman, Brian Babin, who is identified in the article, without irony (!!!) as a member of the so-called “Freedom Caucus” as describing the agreement as “madness” and as saying that:
“I am confident President-elect Trump will do everything in his power to put an immediate stop to this secret Australian-US refugee deal that should simply never have happened in the first place”.
The article also refers to statements from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte warning that the United States should not be accepting asylum seekers from “countries of national security concern”. (Readers who are following developments in the US may recall that Congressman Goodlatte was reportedly the principal architect of the recent “middle of the night” Republican effort to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics).
While the Herald article quotes a spokesperson for Prime Minister Turnbull as saying that the Prime Minister remains confident that the resettlement agreement will “survive the change of administration”, in light of these comments from the Republicans, you really have to wonder, don’t you?
And if the resettlement agreement is in fact blocked by Trump?
The tragic consequence of that would be yet more indefinite time in detention for those being held on Manus and Nauru.
Isn’t it long past time for Australia to put an end to the detention program on Manus and Nauru on its own, and not wait to have the issue “taken off its hands” by an incoming Trump Administration which has clearly signaled its antagonism to allowing migration into the US by people of the Muslim faith? When there is now very strong reason to doubt that Trump will abide by the commitments made by President Obama to Australia?
What do you think?