Australia: Most of 1,100 refugees in US deal have resettled

FILE - In this April 12, 2011, file photo, Five male detainees gather on a rooftop of the Villawood Detention Center in Sydney, Australia. The United States is expected to have resettled more than 1,100 refugees by early next year under a deal President Donald Trump reluctantly honored with Australia, an Australian official said on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)
FILE - In this April 12, 2011, file photo, Five male detainees gather on a rooftop of the Villawood Detention Center in Sydney, Australia. The United States is expected to have resettled more than 1,100 refugees by early next year under a deal President Donald Trump reluctantly honored with Australia, an Australian official said on Monday, Oct. 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File) (AP2011)

CANBERRA – The United States is expected to have resettled more than 1,100 refugees by early next year under a deal President Donald Trump reluctantly honored with Australia, an Australian official said on Monday.

President Barack Obama’s administration struck a deal in 2016 to accept up to 1,250 refugees from Iran, Bangladesh, Somalia and Myanmar whom Australia had banished to Pacific island camps.

Trump condemned the deal as “dumb” but agreed to honor the U.S. commitment, subject to “extreme vetting” of the refugees.

The United States has resettled 870 refugees since October 2017 and around 250 more have received provisional approval to make new homes in the United States, Home Affairs Department deputy secretary Marc Ablong told an Australian Senate committee.

While resettlement had been disrupted in recent months by the pandemic, Ablong said Australia expected the last of the refugees accepted by the United States to be resettled by March or April.

The resettlement deal “is operating very effectively to date,” Ablong said.

The end of the U.S. agreement was expected to leave around 80 asylum seekers on the poor island nations of Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

Australia deterred asylum seekers from coming by boat in 2013 by banning those who have arrived by sea from ever being allowed to settle on the Australian mainland.