The chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees are demanding the Obama administration provide details of a secret resettlement deal in which the U.S. has agreed to take up to 1,800 mostly Muslim asylum seekers who have been rejected by Australia as illegal aliens.
Congress only learned of the deal through media reports two weeks ago and, according to a letter sent to administration officials by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the deal is not only a matter of grave national security concern, but it could be illegal.
That’s because it amounts to an international treaty that Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated without consulting or notifying Congress according to Article II, Section II of the U.S. Constitution, according to the letter, sent by the two lawmakers Nov. 22 to Kerry and DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.
Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Goodlatte chairs the same committee in the House.
The rejected aliens come from terror-infested countries including Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Afghanistan.
Nearly 2,500 of them were interdicted off the coast of Australia in 2013 in accordance with that country’s policy of not accepting any of the wave of “refugees” streaming out of the Middle East. Unlike Europe, Australia effectively said “no” to the United Nations’ plan to open up Western democracies for millions of refugees fleeing not only the Syrian civil war but conflicts in Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and even countries like Pakistan that are not at war. Germany alone has accepted 1.5 million Muslim refugees and subjected itself to thousands of sexual assaults on its women and girls.
But migrants who tried to get to Australia did not find a welcome mat. They were rescued by the Australian coast guard from their unsafe vessels and taken to off-shore camps on the Islands of Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they have remained ever since. The United Nations stepped in and is looking for countries that will take the asylum seekers.
The U.N. found a taker in the Obama administration. Kerry confirmed he had reached a deal to take an undetermined number of the 2,465 aliens for permanent resettlement in the United States. Goodlatte and Grassley said they have since found out that up to 1,800 of the boat people could end up being distributed to U.S. cities and towns. But very little information has been released about the aliens or how many will end up in which American cities.
“This situation is concerning for many reasons,” the letter states. “First, your department s negotiated an international agreement regarding refugees without consulting or notifying Congress. Such information was not disclosed to Congress during the annual refugee consultation that occurred on September 13, 2016, even though your staff confirmed that the agreement had, at the time, been negotiated ‘for months.’ Second, the agreement and the number of refugees to be resettled has been deemed by your departments as classified, thus the American people are left in the dark as to the rationale for this agreement. Third, the individuals who will be resettled are coming from countries of national security concern. In fact, two of the countries are officially designated by the State Department to be State Sponsors of Terrorism. Finally, it begs the question why Australia and other countries refuse to admit these individuals, what other countries are doing to help alleviate the situation, what kind of precedent this sets for future refugees interdicted at sea by Australian forces and prevented from entering Australia, and how a similar situation will be prevented in the future.”
They came from the following countries:
No details have been released as to how many from each country would be considered for resettlement in the U.S., what cities or states they would be sent to, the breakdown of men, women and children, or the state of their health. The U.S. sent teams to begin screening the aliens almost immediately after the deal was brokered by Kerry, according to the letter.
Congress emboldened by Trump victory?
Refugee watchdog Ann Corcoran, who blogs at the website Refugee Resettlement Watch, said the letter is a good sign that perhaps Donald Trump’s victory has emboldened Congress to take a harder line against the refugee program, although even a “hard line” in the U.S. will be nowhere near the stance taken by Australia.
“There are many important concerns in this letter, but one issue in particular caught my eye — the idea of setting a precedent which is something I’ve been hammering for years,” Corcoran writes.
Deals like this are going on elsewhere in the refugee program, she said, where the U.S. agrees to accept migrants who have been rejected as illegals by other, more wary countries.
U.S. has been accepting illegal African migrants from Malta for years
For instance, the U.S. has for years been admitting Libyans and Somalis who arrive on the Mediterranean island of Malta.
“Surely these people are undocumented with only their personal stories to rely on,” Corcoran says. “But we have been transforming them into refugees and placing them in your American towns ever since the Bush Administration.”
“These are Europe’s illegal aliens and not our concern,” she added. “Just as this new batch is Australia’s problem.”
“Congress and the new president can quickly plug this hole, and we must stop these foolish ‘deals’ wherever they are occurring.”
Of course, a “deal” implies that the United States will get something in exchange.
“But what we get is never clear,” Corcoran said.