What the White House said about the Australian refugee swap deal

The Turnbull government may have struck the deal with the US, but what happens when they change presidents?

Ever since a deal was struck between Australia and America for a one-off transfer of some of the 1800 detainees from Australian immigration detention facilities on Manus Island and Nauru to the US, the Turnbull government has been racing to implement the agreement.  The deal comes months after Australia said it would accept Central American refugees from camps in Costa Rica for settlement in Australia.

The agreement – under negotiation between Canberra and Washington for nearly a year – has been thrown into doubt by Mr Trump’s shock election win. US Homeland Security officials are arriving in Australia this week to begin processing and security checks, with the prospect of some refugees being settled before the Republican administration takes office on January 20. However, Donald Trump will honour a refugee resettlement deal signed between Australia and the outgoing Obama administration, according to former US ambassador to Australia John Berry.

Mr Berry, who was appointed by Mr Obama and returned to the US in September, said he expected the deal would remain in place after the presidential inauguration.

“I do not foresee a big change on that issue, other than, you know, [Mr Trump] may take a short while to learn and come up to the speed on the issues,” he told ABC TV.

“He might have a short suspension to allow him to do that but I suspect, once he understands what’s at play here and that we would be doing it in full conformance with the law and security procedures, he’d be fine.”

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He said refugees eligible for resettlement face tough screening.

Mr Berry said implementation of the deal was “a long way from being done”.

“America’s screening process has always been pretty tough, and always will be,” he said.

“One of the things we’ll be doing is a very thorough background investigation of anybody who would be allowed entry to the country through this process or any other. I think, whether that happens under President Obama or president-elect Trump, I don’t see much difference in the short-term on that issue.

“It’s a serious review, there’s no guarantees, but again, in those cases where we can be of help, where they pass those screenings, this may be an opportunity for the United States to help Australia relieve some of the pressure on these sensitive areas.”

Sounds like the deal will survive; until further notice.

Do you think the deal will ever change in the future?