The Trump White House has vowed to apply “extreme vetting” to more than one thousand refugees that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull earlier brokered for the United States to accept from Australia.
President Donald Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed publicly for the first time that the US would honour an agreement struck by former president Barack Obama to take on refugees currently under Australian oversight in neighbouring Pacific Island detention centres.
Mr Spicer said the deal dealt with 1250 people, mostly being held in Papua New Guinea, and President Trump would “honour” the agreement.
“There will be extreme vetting applied to all of them, that is part and parcel of the deal that was made and it was made by the Obama administration with the full backing of the United States government”, he said in response to a question at a White House press briefing.
The acceptance of the refugees jars with Mr Trump’s suspension of the US refugee program and temporary immigration ban on nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The Australian Financial Review has been told that at least one senior White House adviser had deep misgivings about honouring the Obama administration agreement.
Immigration hardliners and Islam sceptics, chief strategist Stephen Bannon and policy adviser Stephen Bannon, were the key drafters of an executive order published on the weekend that temporarily halts refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely for refugees from Syria.
The order also barred for 90 days immigrants from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Mr Turnbull was able to convince Mr Trump of the importance of the 76-year US-Australia alliance.
Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop spoke with Vice President Mike Pence last week shortly before it emerged that President Trump would retain the agreement he inherited from Mr Obama.
It is not clear if Mr Turnbull gave Mr Trump or Mr Obama a qui-pro-quo promise in return for assisting Canberra on a difficult political issues for the Prime Minister
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