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It remains unclear why Australia doesn’t want to accept the refugees that it has left offshore on the islands of Manus and Nauru, nor why the US should take them. The US has resettled within 41 years 4 times more refugees than Australia has in 71 years. The total of refugees resettled by the US in 3 years (2015-17) combined will be approximately 1/3rd of what Australia has resettled in 71 years. The US already has over 13 times more people than Australia – 24.3 million vs. 325.5 million.
Australia’s refusal to take the offshore refugees seems to be either to discourage refugees from coming by boat, or possibly racism against African migrants found there, who appear mostly East Africans. East Africans are, by the way, culturally and ethnically distinct from the mostly West African ancestors of African Americans, who are also culturally distinct because they have been in the Americas for hundreds of years.
As a point of comparison, Australia allowed 21,989 people from India to become citizens in 2015 to 16 alone, and yet has no room for 1,262 refugees from Manus and Nauru. President Obama appears to have taken a number of Somali refugees off the hands of his ancestral homeland of Kenya, bringing them to America, and may have agreed this exchange because of a concern, or an affinity, for East Africans. It is also alarming that Australia will take Central American migrants located in Costa Rica, mostly indigenous to the Americas, in their stead. Once people leave their indigenous homelands, whether in Latin America, Africa, or the Kurdish peoples, etc., they lose their indigenous rights.
Over the last 71 years Australia has resettled more than 800,000 refugees and displaced persons , whereas over the last 41 years the US has resettled 3.2 million refugees (this is refugees and not immigrants) And, the United States resettled 70,000 in 2015, 85,000 in 2016, and, Obama announced, an admissions target of 110,000 for 2017, i.e. a total of 265,000 in 3 years or 1/3rd of what Australia has resettled in 71 years.. The land area of Australia is almost as big as the USA and while much is desert and fragile ecosystems, much of the US is also desert and due to deforestation, resource extraction, climate change, drought conditions have recently occurred in areas where it has been previously unknown. The US has also been accepting the excess, unwanted, peoples of the world for much longer than Australia, and has population numbers reflecting this fact.
Australia has conferred many more individuals citizenship in 2015-16 alone, than are held in detention. They have, for instance, conferred citizenship upon 21, 989 people from India alone- more than 10 times the number of people detained offshore by Australia (1,262) on Manus and Nauru and which Australia wants to deport to the USA. 3,077 from predominantly Muslim Pakistan and 1,976 from predominantly Muslim Bangladesh became citizens, but only 234 Somalis. Here are a few more countries and the numbers of those who became Australian citizens in 2015-16 alone: Thailand (1,895), UK (20,947), US (1,963), Germany (1,179), Ireland (3,943), Brazil (1,141), Canada (1,056), China (6,831), Russia (873), Hong Kong (1039), South Korea (2,258) . There are many more. And, so, it is clear that it is not a question of space.
It is also absolutely dumbfounding that the Australian journalists appear shocked that Trump thinks that taking refugees which are unwanted by Australia is a bad deal. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the US should take the refugees because Australia has approximately 700 of its military fighting ISIS. However, the US has 14,100 military and contractors fighting ISIS.  Others, because the US has bases in Australia but there are costs and benefits on both sides to this. All of this appears fetching excuses.
Nor does it explain why indigenous Central Americans should be sent to Australia in exchange.
“Despite the restrictions, Trump on Sunday assured Australia the United States would honor its agreement to resettle the refugees,” reported Reuters a few days ago, on Jan. 31st, which are “mainly from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq,…“. (This is 57% of 2,161 refugees in detained in processing centers in Australia, based on Reuters.) “Under the deal, Australia will in return resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras,” says Reuters (31 Jan. 2017). Australian government records from last October put the totals as 1,262 on the two islands and 1,403 within Australia, making a total of 2665 and thus 47%. Furthermore, although Reuters names Middle Eastern countries, images suggest a variety of east African ethnic groups are there. The Iranians apparently include Iranian Kurds and converts to Christianity.
How much things can change in a few days:
“U.S. to apply ‘extreme vetting’ in refugee swap deal with Australia
Posted:Tue, 31 Jan 2017 17:20:06 -0500. SYDNEY (Reuters) – The United States will apply “extreme vetting” to up to 1,250 asylum seekers it has agreed to resettle as part of an agreement with Australia, a spokesman for President Trump said in the United States on Tuesday.” http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/Reuters/worldNews/~3/LN-iB5zyl5A/us-australia-asylum-idUSKBN15F2RM
In 2016, Amnesty International, published “ISLAND OF DESPAIR AUSTRALIA’S “PROCESSING” OF REFUGEES ON NAURU“: http://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=482c605f-184e-464a-8f01-a198e03e61c9&subId=459628
“Manus Island detention centre operator’s shares placed in trading halt – as it happened. Broadspectrum, previously named Transfield Services, says it will make a statement about the impact about the Papua New Guinea supreme court ruling” Thursday 28 April 2016 07.31 BST
By Helen Davidson and Ben Doherty, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2016/apr/28/manus-island-detainees-are-australias-responsibility-png-says-live
Recent 25 min documentary, “The Asylum Market“, about abuses and lack of transparency of the privatized (since 2012) asylum housing system in the UK: http://youtu.be/LalI3jPejaw
A series of Guardian articles, from last August, based in part on “Nauru files” leaks, discusses the islands holding people, the majority of whom are indeed classified as refugees (78% Manus and 82% Nauru), but that Australia doesn’t want, saying that letting them in will encourage other refugees to come by boat (though not all came by boat). Manus Island detention, located in Papua New Guinea and ruled illegal last year by the Papua New Guinea court reportedly holds men only. Nauru has a mix of men and women. There have been allegations of sexual attacks against men and women. Professor Louise Newman, formerly a member of the Immigration Health Advisory Group, is quoted in the Guardian as saying that these attacks continue to occur on a nightly basis against women at Nauru detention facility.
The Australia Border Force-Dept.of Immigration and Border Protection:
“Immigration Detention And Community Statistics Summary” dated 31 October 2016 gives the country of origin breakdown for those 1,403 detained in Australia itself but they do not give the country of origin breakdown for the 1,262 held in Manus and Nauru. See: http://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/statistics/immigration-detention-statistics-31-oct-2016.pdf
The UN Special Rapporteur wrote about the situation last November:
“Australia’s human rights record blemished by punitive approach to migrants” – UN rights expert
CANBERRA / GENEVA (18 November 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur François Crépeau today warned that Australia’s human rights record has been tarnished in recent years by migration policies which have increasingly eroded the rights of migrants, in contravention of its international human rights and humanitarian obligations.
‘The punitive approach adopted by Australia towards migrants who arrived by boat has served to erode their human rights’, Mr. Crépeau said at the end of his first official visit* to Australia. ‘It is a fundamental principle of human rights law that one person cannot be punished only for the reason of deterring another.’
The UN expert hailed several migration policies adopted by the authorities, such as the resettlement program granting humanitarian protection to a high number of refugees and assisting them in their integration process, as well as the welcoming of 12,000 refugees from Syria. However, he cautioned that several other migration policies and laws ‘are regressive and fall way behind international standards.’…” Read the rest here: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20889&LangID=E
As reported in the Guardian: “Human teeth found in meal served to asylum seekers on Manus Island” “It is not known whose mouth the two teeth – which appeared to be stained red with betel nut juice – came from or how they came to be in the lunchtime meal“, by Ben Doherty, Monday 2 November 2015 20.27 GMT Last modified on Thursday 27 October 2016 00.00 BST. “two Transfield staff on Manus Island separately confirmed to Guardian Australia the teeth had been found and a complaint lodged” Read the article here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/nov/03/human-teeth-found-in-meal-served-to-asylum-seekers-on-manus-island. (While the company denies it, it is particularly alarming since people in Papua New Guinea or nearby in Indonesia, are known to have practiced Cannibalism until very recently. And, while not knowing if it has been practiced in Manus, the meat may have been imported from the mainland. That thought certainly may dissuade asylum seekers!)
The Guardian did a research series on Nauru last August:
“The Nauru files: cache of 2,000 leaked reports reveal scale of abuse of children in Australian offshore detention, by Paul Farrell, Nick Evershedand Helen Davidson Wednesday 10 August 2016 07.59 BST First published on Tuesday 9 August 2016 21.01 BST
“Exclusive: The largest cache of documents to be leaked from within Australia’s asylum seeker detention regime details assaults, sexual assaults and self-harm The Nauru files: cache of 2,000 leaked reports reveal scale of abuse of children in Australian offshore detention.” Read here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/aug/10/the-nauru-files-2000-leaked-reports-reveal-scale-of-abuse-of-children-in-australian-offshore-detention.
“Read the Nauru files in a unique database“: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/ng-interactive/2016/aug/10/the-nauru-files-the-lives-of-asylum-seekers-in-detention-detailed-in-a-unique-database-interactive
“A short history of Nauru, Australia’s dumping ground for refugees
Its phosphate reserves once made a speck in the Pacific one of the richest countries on Earth. Today Nauru is broke, barren and beholden to its neighbour” by Ben Doherty Read here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/10/a-short-history-of-nauru-australias-dumping-ground-for-refugees
On Thursday: “Australia struggles to save refugee agreement after Trump’s fury at ‘dumb deal’ Malcolm Turnbull adamant that resettlement of up to 1,250 refugees detained by Australia will take place, but some officials say privately deal now ‘can’t survive’“, by Katharine Murphy in Canberra and Ben Doherty in Sydney Thursday 2 February 2017 07.34 GMT Read here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/feb/02/australia-struggling-to-save-refugee-agreement-after-trumps-fury-at-dumb-deal
Almost one year ago: “This is Manus Island. My prison. My torture. My humiliation” by Behrouz Boochani “Iranian Kurdish journalist Behrouz Boochani writes from Manus Island, where he has been held for 28 months, experiencing ‘profound and annihilating mental torture“. Read here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/feb/19/this-is-manus-island-my-prison-my-torture-my-humiliation WHY WOULD THEY OBJECT AN INTELLIGENT, CARING, JOURNALIST IN AUSTRALIA? IN THE USA?
Last November: “It’s hard for me to leave Manus Island without justice: Behrouz Boochani on the US refugee deal“, Behrouz Boochani, “On Sunday the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, announced the deal for the US to take an unspecified number of refugees from Australia’s offshore immigration detention regime. Turnbull also said other refugees would be offered 20-year temporary visas for Nauru“. Read here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/nov/13/its-hard-for-me-to-leave-manus-island-without-justice-behrouz-boochani-on-the-us-refugee-deal
 “Australia has a long history of accepting refugees for resettlement and over 800,000 refugees and displaced persons have settled in Australia since 1945”, says the Australian government: http://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1415/AsylumFacts
 According to former President Obama, “Since 1975 the United States has resettled more than 3.2 million refugees representing more than 70 nationalities. We increased the number of refugees resettled annually in the United States from 70,000 in 2015 to 85,000 this year, and, as recently announced, have established an admissions target of 110,000 in fiscal year (FY) 2017.” https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/20/fact-sheet-leaders-summit-refugees. [This is refugees only. It is not immigrants on worker visas. It is worker visas which are a major problem no matter how much the talking heads want to deny it. Those who’ve lost their jobs to equally or less qualified immigrants, who sometimes don’t even speak English, know it’s true. H1B Visas are dual intent – to citizenship. For over a decade foreign spouses of Americans are expected to stand in line with the economic migrants for green cards, forcing Americans to divorce or expat out. SEE: http://www.sessions.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/news-releases?ID=58a0e039-7401-4ed1-a276-98e0c642cd9a ]. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/20/fact-sheet-leaders-summit-refugees
 From “Previous country of nationality or citizenship of people on whom Australian citizenship was conferred in 2015–16“. https://www.border.gov.au/ReportsandPublications/Documents/annual-reports/annual-report-full-2015-16.pdf
According to former President Obama, last September:
“And if we were to turn refugees away simply because of their background or religion, or, for example, because they are Muslim, then we would be reinforcing terrorist propaganda that nations like my own are somehow opposed to Islam, which is an ugly lie that must be rejected in all of our countries by upholding the values of pluralism and diversity…
First and foremost, we must recognize that refugees are a symptom of larger failures — be it war, ethnic tensions, or persecution. If we truly want to address the crisis, wars like the savagery in Syria must be brought to an end — and it will be brought to an end through political settlement and diplomacy, and not simply by bombing…
As Americans, we’re determined to do our part. The United Nations [United States] is the largest single donor of humanitarian aid around the world, including to refugees and to the people of Syria. We resettle more refugees than any other nation. As President, I’ve increased the number of refugees we are resettling to 85,000 this year, which includes 10,000 Syrian refugees — a goal we’ve exceeded even as we’ve upheld our rigorous screening. And I called for this summit because we all have to do more.
I want to thank our co-hosts, Secretary General Ban, and Jordan. Obviously, Jordan is carrying an enormous burden as a consequence of the conflict, and we are grateful for His Majesty and the work that they’ve done. Mexico, which is absorbing a great number of refugees from Central America. Sweden, which has made enormous humanitarian contributions in addition to taking on refugees. Germany and Canada — two countries that have gone above and beyond in providing support for refugees. And I want to personally thank Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Trudeau, and the people of both those countries — because the politics sometimes can be hard, but it’s the right thing to do. And Ethiopia, which as was noted in the video, bears an enormous burden…“https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/20/remarks-president-obama-leaders-summit-refugees. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/20/remarks-president-obama-leaders-summit-refugees
“The United States has also increased alternative pathways of admission, providing special immigrant visas to more than 11,000 people at risk from Iraq and Afghanistan in FY16, an increase of more than 4,000 from FY 2015. Last year the United States provided more than $6 billion in humanitarian assistance worldwide. We anticipate providing more than $7 billion in humanitarian assistance to international organizations and non-governmental organizations by the end of the current fiscal year. In direct support of the Summit’s goals, the United States recently made a contribution of nearly $37 million for UNHCR’s work with countries hosting refugees to increase the number of refugee children receiving a quality education. The United States is also proud to have provided $20 million in support for the Education Cannot Wait Platform, the world’s first fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, championing access to education in the most complex and dangerous environments“. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/09/20/fact-sheet-leaders-summit-refugees. [Emphasis our own throughout.]
Top image is by the Government of Australia, as indicated on the poster, and so is Creative Commons (via Amnesty International).