‘Much can be learned’: Trump celebrates Australia’s ‘inhuman’ detention of migrants

US President Donald Trump smiles during a Make America Great Again rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 27, 2019. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
  • US president Trump has tweeted his support for Australia’s hardline off-shore detention policy, as he cracks down on immigrants crossing into the US from Mexico.
  • Australia’s treatment of migrants arriving by boat has long been controversial, with the UN just this month condemning it as ‘cruel, inhuman and degrading’, while former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called it “the envy of the world”.
  • The tweet came just hours before Trump sat down with Prime Minister Scott Morrison ahead of the G20 summit, where the President praised Morrison and his “tremendous victory” in the recent federal election.

President Donald Trump has tweeted his support for Australia’s strict immigration controls, claiming that “much can be learned” by the US about how to control its borders.


Trump’s comments come as the President plans to implement detention camps of his own in a bid to stem immigration from south of the border, and just hours before he sat down with Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a dinner attended by some of his government’s most powerful officials.

“We’re doing a fantastic job (at American migrant detention centres),” the President said earlier this week, as scathing reports about facility conditions emerged.

It’s not the first time Trump has commended Australia’s tough stance on immigrants, infamously praising former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as “worse than I am” during a phone call about refugee policies in January 2017.

That phone call was used largely to discuss a refugee-swap, where the US accepted dozens of refugees from Australia and vice-versa.

A full transcript of the call made on 28 January 2017 was later released by The Washington Post, with the conversation surrounding an agreement made by the Obama administration to allow as many as 1,250 migrants that were detained by Australia at the time into the US.

A smaller number of migrants held in the US would in-turn be allowed to enter Australia.

Australia has long maintained off-shore detention camps on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea as well as on the small Pacific nation of Nauru.

These have been repeatedly condemned by the UN.

Just this month the UN issued a statement urging Australia to end its policy.

“These individuals are subject to years of effective confinement in Australia’s custody, based solely on their migration status. The situation of their indefinite and prolonged confinement, exacerbated by the lack of appropriate medical care amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment according to international standards,” the UN said.

“Australia should look for long-term solutions for these migrants while solutions cannot be found in the offshore facilities.”

Despite that opposition, Turnbull when prime minister called the policies “the envy of the world”.

Morrison, since assuming office, has made no indication he would end off-shore detention centres, instead re-opening the Christmas Island detention facility temporarily ahead of the 2019 federal election.

In response to the tweet, Australians and Americans alike were quick to ask the President to take different lines of inspiration from Australian policies.

Comments on Trump’s tweet suggesting different kinds of inspiration from Australia Twitter