Obama se­cret deal will bring Syr­ian refugees

GOP: Re­veal the terms

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY STEPHEN DINAN

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has writ­ten a se­cret deal that could let Aus­tralia ship more than 2,400 refugees wait­ing to en­ter its bor­ders over to the U.S. in­stead, in­clud­ing refugees from ter­ror­ism­con­nected coun­tries such as So­ma­lia and Syria, two top Repub­li­can con­gress­men said Tues­day.

But the de­tails of the agree­ment have been deemed clas­si­fied by the ad­min­is­tra­tion, shield­ing Amer­i­cans from knowl­edge of what Pres­i­dent Obama has agreed to, said House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Bob Good­latte of Vir­ginia and Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley of Iowa.

They have seen the agree­ment and said there’s no rea­son it should be hid­den from the pub­lic.

“The Amer­i­can peo­ple have a right to be fully aware of the ac­tions of their govern­ment re­gard­ing for­eign na­tion­als who may be ad­mit­ted to the United States,” the con­gress­men wrote. “Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers not only foot the bill for the ma­jor­ity of the refugee re­set­tle­ments in the United States, but they bear any con­se­quences re­gard­ing the se­cu­rity im­pli­ca­tions of those ad­mit­ted to the U.S.”

Aus­tralian au­thor­i­ties are fright­ened that the deal could go south un­der Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, who has been harshly crit­i­cal of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s refugee pol­icy.

Last week, af­ter a man who en­tered the U.S. as a So­mali refugee mounted an at­tack on the cam­pus of Ohio State Univer­sity, Mr. Trump re­peated his cam­paign pledge to cur­tail im­mi­gra­tion from coun­tries with con­nec­tions to ter­ror­ism.

“Just so you un­der­stand, peo­ple are pour­ing in from re­gions of the Mid­dle East. We have no idea who they are, where they come from, what they are think­ing, and we’re go­ing to stop that dead cold flat,” he said at a rally in Ohio.

Mr. Good­latte and Mr. Grass­ley said some of the mi­grants at is­sue come from So­ma­lia, Syria, Iran and Su­dan.

They are be­ing held in Pa­pua New Guinea and Nauru, where they were de­toured af­ter they tried to reach Aus­tralia. Aus­tralian of­fi­cials have re­fused to re­set­tle them, and they have be­come a black eye for that coun­try’s ad­min­is­tra­tion as hu­man rights groups protest the con­di­tions of their de­ten­tion.

Home­land Se­cu­rity re­ferred questions to the State Depart­ment, which said it would re­spond di­rectly to the con­gress­men about their call for de­clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

Aus­tralian of­fi­cials have said the U.N. High Com­mis­sioner on Refugees would be re­spon­si­ble for pro­cess­ing the lucky mi­grants who would be shipped to the U.S. — just as the UNHCR is re­spon­si­ble for ini­tial screen­ing of ap­pli­cants to the U.S. from the rest of the globe.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion had set an am­bi­tious goal for ac­cept­ing refugees this year, but has so far been mak­ing slow progress.

The pace of refugees from Syria has fallen pre­cip­i­tously, with just 962 peo­ple ad­mit­ted in Novem­ber. That’s down from 1,297 a month be­fore, and down from an av­er­age of nearly 2,500 a month from July through Septem­ber.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS PHO­TO­GRAPHS

Repub­li­cans Rep. Bob Good­latte (left) and Sen. Chuck Grass­ley pounded Pres­i­dent Obama to re­veal the de­tails of a clas­si­fied deal the ad­min­is­tra­tion made with Aus­tralia to bring over 2,400 refugees into the U.S.

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