As U.S. Assesses Manus, Nauru Refugees; 50,000 Cap For Admissions Reached

President Trump reduced number of refugees allowed yearly from 110,000 

By North America correspondent Stephanie March

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, July 14, 2017) – Refugees in detention centres on Manus Island and Nauru could be delayed entry to the United States after the country hit its annual refugee intake cap yesterday.

The US is assessing many of the hundreds of refugees in those centres for resettlement as part of a deal struck last year with the Australian Government.

US President Donald Trump reduced America's annual refugee intake from 110,000 to 50,000 as part of his travel ban earlier this year.

The US State Department has said that cap was reached yesterday.

The new intake year begins on October 1.

Exemptions could be made for those who have a "credible claim to a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States", following a decision from the US Supreme Court last month that revived elements of Mr Trump's travel ban while it considers the legality of the order.

The US State Department said immigration officials have "not yet concluded adjudications of any refugees being considered for resettlement out of Australian facilities in Nauru and Manus islands".

The President, in consultation with Congress, is expected to set the next year's refugee admission ceiling in the next three months.

The resettlement deal was announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year, with Australia agreeing to consider resettling Central American refugees from a centre in Costa Rica while the US promised to consider taking refugees from Manus Island and Nauru.

In November last year Mr Turnbull said the resettlement deal for those on Manus Island and Nauru was a "one-off agreement" that would not apply to any new asylum seeker boat arrivals.

While the election of Mr Trump cast some uncertainty about whether the deal would go ahead, the White House said in February the deal would go ahead provided the refugees were subject to "extreme vetting" procedures.

Officers from the Department of Homeland Security were on Nauru in March and Manus Island during April, fingerprinting refugees who expressed an interest in US resettlement.

The ABC understands that of the roughly 900 refugees who may be under consideration on Nauru, around 600 had first interviews conducted by officials from the US resettlement team based in Bangkok in December and January.

Most of the people interviewed are from Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Of around 600 who may be eligible on Manus Island, around half had first interviews during the same period.

Parliamentary Library figures show there are at least 941 refugees on on Nauru and 675 on Manus.

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