Asylum seekers in Asia

Trump tells Turnbull US will honour Australian refugee deal despite travel ban

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 8:14pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 January, 2017, 8:14pm

US President Donald Trump has committed to honour the deal with Australia to take refugees from Manus and Nauru – even as his ban against refugees and migrants from some Muslim-majority countries is enforced.

In a 25-minute phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the two leaders committed to work together to improve global instability, defeat Islamic State and prevent irregular and illegal immigration.

“The ongoing shared objective to defeat Isil was discussed and both leaders committed to continuing to work together to improve global instability, including in the Asia Pacific,” a spokeswoman for the prime minister said.

“The leaders acknowledged a common interest in preventing irregular and illegal migration.

“The president confirmed that his administration would continue to honour the 2016 refugee resettlement arrangement agreed between the governments of Australia and the United States.”

Shortly afterwards, the White House tweeted a photo of the call and released a statement.

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“Both leaders emphasised the enduring strength and closeness of the US-Australia relationship that is critical for peace, stability, and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region and globally,” the White House statement said.

Trump’s executive order to close America’s borders to travellers from some Muslim-majority countries left people from those countries held in detention at New York City’s JFK airport on Saturday, causing chaos in American airports over the weekend

Trump’s executive order suspends entry to the US for all refugees for 120 days, indefinitely for those from Syria. All entries by people from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen have been suspended for 90 days, including valid visa-holders, legal residents and green-card holders.

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Of the refugees held on Manus and Nauru, Iranian refugees make up the largest group. There are also significant Iraqi, Sudanese and Somali cohorts amongst the detainees.

On Sunday, Australia’s trade minister, Steve Ciobo, said he would not support a Trump-style ban and nor would most Australians.

Asked if he would like Australia to implement a similar policy, Ciobo said he would not personally support such a ban and “it is not a position that most Australians will support”.

Ciobo said since the Coalition stopped asylum seeker boats, the government had been able to apply more rigour and focus on the people applying to come to Australia as refugees.

“Australians I believe, fundamentally want to know that as a country we are going to be safe,” he told Sky News. “They want to know that we are not going to allow terrorists into Australia.”

As chaos unfolded over Trump’s travel ban, Bill Shorten tweeted that Australia’s non-discriminatory immigration policies had made the country stronger.