President Trump will reevaluate a deal to resettle 1,250 refugees being detained in offshore Australian facilities in the U.S., he tweeted late Wednesday, calling the Obama-era agreement a “dumb deal.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Tuesday that the administration would honor the deal but would subject the refugees to “extreme vetting,” despite its recent 120-day suspension of the refugee program.
“Part of the deal is that they have to be vetted in the same manner that we’re doing now. There will be extreme vetting applied to all of them,” Spicer said.
The refugees are mostly from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. In exchange for the U.S. taking them in, Australia would resettle refugees from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
But shortly after Spicer’s comments, the Trump administration said the president was still considering the arrangement, according to Australian news outlet ABC.
Trump’s Twitter post came shortly after The Washington Post reported that the president slammed Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull during a phone call on Saturday, calling the agreement “the worst deal ever.”
Turnbull insisted at a news conference on Wednesday that the U.S. had agreed to hold up its end of the deal, but refused to comment on reports of the phone call.
The refugees, those who attempted to reach Australia by boat, are housed on the island nation of Nuaru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea. Australia has been under intense pressure over conditions at the detention facilities and is working to shut them down.
Ten days into the Trump administration and we’re already safer.