Australia is close to announcing a deal that will move hundreds of asylum seekers stuck in offshore detention camps to the United States, local media reported on Friday.
Some 1,800 asylum seekers that journeyed by boat to Australia after July, 2013 are currently being held at Australia-run offshore processing camps on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island and Nauru.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told newsmen that Australia was poised to announce a resettlement deal for all the asylum seekers, after months of negotiations with the U.S.
“There is always speculation about these things and we never comment on them.
“These are people who are refugees, who have been found to be refugees, who, if they are settled in a country like the U.S., that will be a good thing,’’ Turnbull told reporters in Canberra.
However, opposition Labour Party’s Anthony Albanese said the news was good.
In September, the Turnbull government agreed to resettle a group of Costa Ricans in an agreement with the U.S.
It is not clear how the alleged deal to transfer Australia’s refugees could be affected by new U.S. president-elect, Donald Trump, who has campaigned partially on an anti-immigration platform.
On Tuesday, Australia’s conservative government introduced a bill to parliament that would ban those currently held in offshore detention from ever visiting Australia in the future, even as a tourist.
The bill is likely to fail because the opposition has said that they would not support it.
Human rights groups have criticised the Australian government about the conditions for refugees and asylum seekers in the camps, saying it was cruel and amounted to torture.
The groups said there had also been reports of sexual assaults and self harm.