The US on Saturday expressed its intention to honor a migrant resettlement plan [BBC News report] negotiated between the US and Australia. Under the terms of the agreement, up to 1,250 migrants seeking asylum in Australia will be allowed to resettle in the US, in return for the Australian government’s pledge to resettle migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador seeking asylum in the US. Though Vice President Mike Pence [official profile] re-upped the US’s commitment to the plan, he said the administration would be doing so reluctantly. In addition, White House officials have said any asylum seekers coming through the plan will face “extreme vetting,” a policy advanced by the Trump administration with respect to refugees seeking asylum from certain Muslim-majority countries. Many of those asylum seekers who have been denied access to Australia, primarily men from Iran, Afghanistan, and Iraq, are settled outside of the country in Nauru, Cambodia, or Papua New Guinea.
Australian refugees and their treatment have been a topic of discussion among international human rights organizations as of late. In August, Australia announced [JURIST report] that Australia and Papua New Guinea intended on closing the controversial Manus Island detention center. That same month Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued reports [JURIST report] stating that Australia is ignoring inhumane treatment of detainees in Nauru. In May, Papua New Guinea officials stated Australian refugees are not being detained [JURIST report] on Manus Island, as they are given access to mainland Australia, although refugee advocates believe that the refugees are facing arbitrary restrictions to the mainland. The statement by officials followed a ruling by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court that the Australian off-shore detention facility was illegal, in direct opposition to a February ruling [JURIST report] by the Australian Supreme Court earlier that found the off-shore detention to be legal.