Refugee activists are apoplectic because U.S. officials have withdrawn from interviewing economic migrants on the Australian island of Nauru. The entire relocation and immigration scheme was set into place by President Obama during his lame-duck period after the 2016 Presidential election.
Incoming President Donald Trump was not happy when Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull informed him of the secret deal. President Trump reluctantly agreed to consider the 1,250 asylum seekers and established conditions the refugees would have to pass rigorous checks.
SYDNEY/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials interviewing refugees held in an Australian-run offshore detention center left the facility abruptly, three detainees told Reuters on Saturday, throwing further doubt over a plan to resettle many of the detainees in America.
U.S. officials halted screening interviews and departed the Pacific island of Nauru on Friday, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the United States had reached its annual refugee intake cap.
“U.S. (officials) were scheduled to be on Nauru until July 26 but they left on Friday,” one refugee told Reuters, requesting anonymity as he did not want to jeopardize his application for U.S. resettlement.
In the United States, a senior member of the union that represents refugee officers at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a Department of Homeland Security agency, told Reuters his own trip to Nauru was not going forward as scheduled.
Jason Marks, chief steward of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1924, told Reuters his trip has now been pushed back and it was unclear whether it will actually happen. The USCIS did not respond to requests for comment. (read more)