If you’re, like us, trying to make sense out of why President Obama agreed with Australia to take 1250 Muslim refugees who are currently housed in Australian detention camps on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, this might help.
You see, Australia has very strict immigration laws that consider anyone who comes to Australia by boat, retroactive to 2013, as illegal immigrants. That legislation was designed to stop human smuggling, primarily from Indonesia, but these refugees were caught up as well.
From the Guardian:
Why can’t Australia just make an exception for them? It would seem Australia’s immigration hard-liners made a deal with President Obama to get these 1250 souls off of their hands in exchange for refugees to be named later from Central America. Trump is right — this is a “dumb deal”:
Do you believe it? The Obama Administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
President Trump is taking some heat for referring to these 1250 people as “illegal immigrants,” but that’s because of Australia, not the U.S. They’re even referred to as inmates in the Australian press:
The report suggested the fledgling president ended the call – supposed to last an hour – within 25 minutes, but not before declaring his country’s pledge to take 1250 inmates from Manus Island and Nauru “the worst deal ever”.
Australia’s immigration policies have been highly criticized in the past. Here’s the New York Times writing back in December that the world “knows no more sinister exercise in cruelty than Australia’s island prisons”:
— Elissa Goldstein (@Book_Moth) February 2, 2017
So somehow President Trump is the bad guy because of Australia’s “sinister” policies? Here’s Amnesty International from last year, too:
— Amnesty Australia (@amnestyOz) October 30, 2016
And opposition to this deal is nothing news. Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Bob Goodlatte sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry back in November when it was signed asking for explanation. An excerpt: