I don’t know about you, but when I woke up to discover that we’re having a refugee problem with Australia, it made my brain hurt for a bit. I mean, I know they’ve got this cane toad problem, and some of the most poisonous nasty creatures on earth live there — I mean, spiders and snakes, sure, but a snail? A deadly stinging tree? Gina Rinehart, for God’s sake?! — but that’s no reason to flee the country. Or maybe it is; I don’t know. I’ve never met the woman.
Turns out the big crisis is over refugees that Australia refused to accept. (“Ohhhh!”)
Now, I’m not going to say things like “If they don’t want ’em, why should we take ’em?”, mainly because that doesn’t matter. It would if the world was about fairness, but it isn’t; it’s about geopolitics and social justice and war and things of that nature. Plus, if you’re sympathetic toward the plight of the poor refugees, it doesn’t matter — and if you don’t want to accept refugees, it still doesn’t matter. So, moving on to things that do.
The refugees in question have been accumulating for a few years at detention sites that are not on Australian soil — similar to our use of Guantanamo, only not as a prison but instead because, on Australian soil, they’d have rights. What happened was, Australia imposed a partial ban on refugees (I know; right?) a couple of years back, and most of these people got stuck in transit. Australia was politically incapable of accepting them all, but they couldn’t send them home either, and there were these two defunct island prisons where the locals needed money… It seemed like a good temporary solution.
Four years ago.
Yep. These are people who ran afoul of the same problem I mentioned in another article, with paperwork that doesn’t really identify them and who have no particular economic value. Some have relatives that live in Australia already (otherwise, why go? Those spiders… *shudder*), but that’s not a lot of voters, and most of the rest of the country seems to just want them to quietly go away. A few are being allowed to enter, but not many.
So a while back, then-President Obama offered to help out, a little diplomatic quid pro quo. He was looking to accept some refugees to make a point and maybe do a little good in the world, and the Australian P.M. really wanted his impossible problem solved. I’d bring up the idea that perhaps Mr. Obama wanted to stick Mr. Trump in a tough spot, except it’s not polite to speak ill of the recently departed. Anyway.
This all flew under the radar because our country was still in shock from the recent election, and it wasn’t until Saturday that it started to come to light. A staffer noticed that President Trump’s call with P.M. Turnbull was shorter than expected, and then some unnamed “Senior Officials” were briefed on the point of contention — and promptly leaked the story to the Washington Post. (Note: I’m going with the Australian press here; it gives some perspective we lack in the U.S.)
Meanwhile, a diplomatic back-and-forth dance was going on, with State and official spokesmen saying one thing about policy to the Australians and the Oval Office saying quite another. After the story broke in the Post, @realDonaldTrump (the president’s personal, off-hours Twitter account) rather truculently observed that he was going to have to “…study this dumb deal!” Which leaves the Australians a bit confused about what’s actually going to happen.
And us too, now that I come to mention it.
Although, to be frank, I’m pretty sure Trump is going to honor the deal — though perhaps he might change the terms a bit. My main reason for this is, he wouldn’t be complaining this loudly about it and already casting blame on his predecessor otherwise. And I’m not alone in this belief; several stories have appeared in some of Australia’s independent press suggesting the same thing. I like this one especially; it’s got quite the slant.
So what does this mean for the Trump Administration’s refugee policy and for the future of America in general? Your guess is as good as mine — though I do have some wild irresponsible speculation that I’m not putting out just yet.
Stay tuned, people. This next one’s gonna be hot.
UPDATE: Seven minutes ago, Trump announced he was accepting the refugee deal.