Extreme vetting process for refugees


AMERICAN officials have commenced “extreme vetting” of refugees at Australia’s offshore detention centres on Manus Island and Naru, with lengthy interrogations about their associates and any links to the Islamic State, Reuters reports.
Representatives of the US Department of Homeland Security left Manus Island having conducted 48 second-stage interviews, with two refugees divulging details of the process to Reuters.
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection this week confirmed 268 people had completed their second-stage security interview with US officials, 220 in Nauru and 48 on Manus Island.
In a separate part of the process, the Department of Homeland Security also collects fingerprint and other biometric data.
The third and final stage of the process is a medical assessment.
Those assessments commenced in Nauru last week, with approximately 220 to be finished in this round, deputy immigration secretary Rachel Noble told a senate estimates hearing.
“It will be some time yet before it is made clear how many people are going from Nauru and how many from Manus,” department secretary Mike Pezzullo said.
But the commencement of security interviews indicated Washington would continue to honour the so-called people swap that US President Donald Trump had called “a dumb deal”.
The Trump administration said last month the agreement to offer refuge to up to 1250 asylum seekers would progress on condition that refugees satisfied strict checks.
In exchange, Australia has pledged to take Central American refugees currently living in Costa Rica. Noble told senate estimates her department was handling seven cases, involving 30 refugees, likely to settle in Australia.
A spokesman for Immigration Minister Peter Dutton refused to comment on the resettlement process and the US State Department and White House did not immediately respond to questions.
A decision on the fate of the first batch of refugees is expected to be reached next month. – Reuters

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