- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2017

President Trump is preparing to accept hundreds of refugees from Iran and other terrorist-connected countries, taking them from camps being maintained by Australia under a deal his predecessor struck, without putting them through the long vetting that usually takes place, according to a report being released Monday.

Some of the refugees have tried to cleanse their social media presence to try to delete red flags that could cost them their chance to come to the U.S., the Center for Immigration Studies report concludes.

A staggering 88 percent of the refugees have some level of mental illness or disorder, according to a U.N. health inspection last year. And the center’s report documents incidents of rape and sexual assault perpetrated by the refugees on locals.

Australia has been looking for a landing place for the refugees for years, and President Obama agreed to take them. Mr. Trump criticized the “dumb” deal in February, and shared a testy phone call with Australia’s prime minister, but has since relented and is moving quickly to welcome the refugees.

Usually processing refugees takes up to 24 months, but analysts said the process for this set is likely to be eight months, with the first due to arrive by late September.

“The process is well underway,” Nayla Rush, a senior policy analyst at the center, says in the report.

The refugees tried to reach Australia but were instead detoured to camps on Nauru and Manus Island north of Australia. The “vast majority” are Iranian — one of the countries Mr. Trump has specifically singled out as a trouble spot in his extreme vetting policies. Others are from Sudan and Somalia, which are also on the list.

Australia says it has assurances the deal won’t be affected by Mr. Trump’s executive order attempting to halt refugee admissions and banning entry to most visitors from Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

Some 850 refugees have been identified by the U.N. as candidates for resettlement in the U.S., and American officials are now going through that list and doing their own review.

Homeland Security officials began interviews in May, with decisions on the first group of 70 people expected in weeks.

In exchange for the U.S. taking the refugees off its hands, Australia has committed to taking several dozen Central Americans who are in Costa Rica, hoping to make their way north to the U.S.

Ms. Rush said she can understand Australia’s thinking, but wondered what the Obama administration saw in the deal — and why Mr. Trump, who was initially critical, has now reversed himself.

“What is hard to comprehend is President Trump’s agreement to move ahead with this deal,” she wrote.

She said members of Congress have tried to pry loose more details on the refugee deal, without success.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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