Further Thoughts on the U.S.-Australia Asylum-Seeker Swap

By Dan Cadman on December 6, 2016

My colleague Nayla Rush posted an item yesterday titled "Australia's Unwanted Asylum Seekers (Mostly Iranians) To Be Resettled in the U.S."

Rush provides details of an "exchange" between the U.S. and Australian governments in which the United States will accept 1,600 or more mostly-Iranian asylum seekers being detained in offshore asylum camps after being interdicted trying to enter Australia illegally. In return, Australia will accept an unspecified number of "Central American 'refugees' from a processing center in Costa Rica", as Rush explains.

Her blog is a follow-on to one I posted earlier, before the details of the swap emerged, and all that was known was that the United States would take what was estimated as 1,200 internees from those camps. (Note, by the way, how that figure has risen in these more recent accounts.)

In my blog, I asked rhetorically what was in this for the United States, and my answer was, "Nothing, as far as I can see." My response to that rhetorical question remains the same, even with this new information added about an "exchange."

The reason is simple: I can see absolutely no legal or moral basis for the United States to be negotiating swaps on behalf of Costa Rica, which is the country where these individuals are presently encamped. They got there because Costa Rica has been in the business of liberally permitting entry to so-called "tourists" — whom the Costa Rican government has every reason to know were in fact malafide travelers intent on using the country as a launching point to wind their way into the United States illegally. Another of my colleagues, Kausha Luna, has written extensively on this issue. But when bordering nations such as Nicaragua shut their doors to these erstwhile intended migrants, the trail ended, and Costa Rica ended up hoisted on its own petard with aliens now bottled up in its territory that it didn't want.

Not to worry! The Obama administration, in the goodness of its heart, has found a way out for at least a portion of them, even if it is to send them Down Under, thousands of miles from their original hoped-for destination of the United States. And in return, the United States will accept hundreds of Shia Muslims emanating from a designated state sponsor of terror, individuals about whom we know nothing, and we are doing this despite repeated evidence of our government's sad incapacity to show itself competent in the matter of background vetting of intended migrants in any category (or naturalization applicants either, for that matter).

The other interesting point Rush astutely made in her blog is this: "Negotiations between the two governments have been ongoing for months, but the deal was announced just last month, a few days after the U.S. presidential election." Let me highlight that statement in neon. The administration knew full well that if this deal had been announced while the campaign fight between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was ongoing, it might upset the balance in a way unfavorable to Clinton's chances. So they held back, almost certainly because they figured once she had the win in the bag, they could move forward without any blowback.

Clinton didn't win, but the administration still has no reason to back out of the deal now — in fact, it's just another little way in which they can stick one last thumb in the eye of the incoming Trump administration, not to mention in the collective eye of all those "deplorables" who cost the Democrats the election. Just another petty moment of schadenfreude from the losers, who still don't accept that it was their overreach in the matter of immigration that cost them the election in the first place.