US officials fingerprinting refugees on Nauru in possible restart to program

U.S. officials began taking fingerprints of asylum seekers in an Australian-run camp on the Pacific island of Nauru on Monday (March 20), signalling that vetting of applicants for resettlement in what U.S. President Donald Trump called a “dumb deal” has restarted.

Interviews with more than half a dozen detainees on Nauru confirmed the U.S. Homeland Security officials arrived on Saturday (March 18), with meetings with detainees beginning on Monday.

Australia agreed with former U.S. President Barack Obama late last year for the United States to resettle up to 1,250 asylum seekers held in much-criticised processing camps on Papua New Guinea and Nauru. In return, Australia would resettle refugees from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Trump labelled the agreement a “dumb deal” in a Tweet, but said he would stand by it.

Two asylum seekers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of fears of jeopardizing their applications to settle in the United States, told Reuters by phone that Homeland Security officials did not ask any specific questions. Other refugees showed Reuters appointment slips to meet U.S. officials.

Similar biometric data collection would begin at the Australian-run detention centre in Papua New Guinea in early April, detainees were told by immigration officials last week.

Australia maintains a strict policy of not allowing anyone who tries to reach the country by boat to settle there, instead detaining them in the camps on Nauru and PNG in conditions that have been harshly criticised by rights groups.

The U.S. security interviews with asylum seekers on Nauru were cancelled last month amid uncertainty about what constituted the “extreme vetting” Trump promised to apply to the 1,250 refugees it agreed to accept.

A spokeswoman for Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton declined to comment. The Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reuters)

 
 
 
 
 

Forest fires in Spain force mass evacuations

Forest fires in Spain force mass evacuations
Spanish police had to wake people up to tell them to leave their homes on the night of ...
READ MORE >
 

More violence in Venezuela at protest over shooting

More violence in Venezuela at protest over shooting
Demonstrators marched to Venezuelan military bases on June 24 to protest the shooting of a young demonstrator; the ...
READ MORE >
 

Runners compete in the Gobi March desert crossing

Runners compete in the Gobi March desert crossing
Up for a challenge? How about a seven-day race across a desert? The Gobi March is part of ...
READ MORE >
 

Japanese cat lover tours country with a load of Persian kitties

Japanese cat lover tours country with a load of Persian kitties
Masahiko Suga, a 56-year-old electronics company retiree in Japan, rose to internet fame in 2014 by taking his ...
READ MORE >
 

79-year-old Alzheimer patient’s love for music and singing always bring his memory back!

79-year-old Alzheimer patient’s love for music and singing always bring his memory back!
In an absolutely dramatic turn of events, as if a scene is borrowed out of a movie, a ...
READ MORE >