- Dozens of refugees detained by Australia are headed to the US as part of a resettlement deal with the US.
- President Donald Trump has been critical of the deal in the past.
- The refugee resettlements come as the full picture of immigration reform in the US remains in flux.
Dozens of refugees detained by Australia and held in the Manus Island detention center have been sent for resettlement in the US.
A group of around 40 refugees, predominantly single men, have left for New York, news outlet The Australian reported.Eighteen additional refugees are expected to fly to the US next month, according to aid groups.
More than 1,500 asylum-seekers still remain on the islands, according to The Australian.
Fifty-four refugees were resettled in the US last September after the US agreed to resettle up to 1,250 refugees from Australian-run camps. In exchange, Australia agreed to accept a small number of Central American refugees.
The deal was originally agreed upon between the Obama and Turnbull administrations. President Donald Trump has been critical of the resettlement plan.
In a tweet last year, Trump said Obama had agreed to take in “thousands of illegal immigrants” and called it a “dumb deal.”
Trump expressed his displeasure with the deal in a phone conversation with Turnbull last year, according to phone transcripts obtained by The Washington Post. Trump said the US-Australia resettlement deal makes the US “look awfully bad.”
Australia officially shut down operations at Manus Island last October. Police stormed the center and forced asylum seekers and refugees to move elsewhere on the island in Papa New Guinea.
New Zealand has previously offered to take 150 refugees from Manus Island. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he would consider the offer after the US completed its refugee transfers.
Unresolved immigration reform in the US
The refugee resettlements come as the full picture of immigration reform in the US remains in flux.
Trump has sought to implement a travel ban on some predominantly Muslim countries, an effort that has faced multiple court challenges.
Additionally, the fate of some 700,000 people protected under the Deferred Action for Early Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program remains unresolved.
Trump said in September that he planned to put an end to the DACA program, which gives temporary protection to some individuals brought to the US illegally as minors.
This month, a US judge temporarily halted the Trump administration’s moves to shut down the program.