The election of Donald Trump into US presidency could overturn the Australia-US refugee resettlement deal, experts say.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that refugees on Nauru and Manus Island would be relocated to the US through a one-off deal.
Under the deal, refugees who do not accept resettlement to the US would be sent to Nauru and provided a 20-year visa to stay or return to their origin country.
However, concerns arise that Trump might not keep the agreement when he takes office in January.
“In all likelihood, the only way it’s going to happen is if the refugees are transferred to the US before inauguration day [January 20],” Niels Frenzen, immigration clinic director at the University of Southern California school of law told Radio National.
“If the US has not already begun its own vetting or so-called background checks until now, if you look at the time the US has taken to vet Syrian refugees … it’s unlikely that that could be accomplished in a few months.”
Mark Krikorian, the executive director at the Centre for Immigration Studies said Trump, whose policies contradicts the agreement, might not keep the deal.
“We [America] have a good relationship with Australia — one of our closest allies in the world,” Krikorian said.
“If this were a unique situation that there was no way for Australia to deal with, I could see extending them a helping hand, but this is just a matter of shipping these illegal immigrants to the United States.”
Both Krikorian and Frenzen suggest that the resettlement could be finished before January 20 under several conditions.
Frenzen said refugees could be settled before Trump’s inauguration if vetting had been “ongoing” and the US had been negotiating with Australia since January.
Krikorian also suggested that President Barack Obama might accelerate the processing period, as he had previously sped up the assessment of Syrian refugees from 18-24 months to only three months.
“It’s entirely possible the administration will rush the admission of the illegal immigrants you all have offshore in order to get them in under the wire before January 20 when Trump becomes president,” said Krikorian.