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President Obama’s team will adopt at least one more significant refugee policy before President-elect Trump brings his more restrictionist policies to the White House.

Refugees from Afghanistan and other countries who sought asylum in Australia will instead find a home in the United States, pursuant to an agreement struck by Secretary of State John Kerry that will alleviate pressure on Australian leaders who have been accused of forcing refugees to live in inhumane conditions at offshore precessing centers.

“We in the United States have agreed to consider referrals from UNHCR [the United Nations refugee Agency] on refugees now residing in Nauru and in Papua New Guinea,” Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters while traveling in New Zealand.

About 1,200 people, according to the latest official figures, currently live on those islands as part of an Australian government program for refugees who arrive by boat that has been in place since 2001. The Australian government is touting the deal as a vindication of their hawkish border security policy.

“It is a one-off agreement,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in announcing the deal after Kerry’s press availability. “It will not be repeated. It is only available to those currently in the regional processing centers. It will not be available to any persons who seek to reach Australia in the future.”

Neither leader announced how many of the refugees, who hail largely from Afghanistan and Iraq, will go to the United States or when they will arrive. Turnbull said that American officials will vet the refugees and decide who can come to the United States.

“The more the better,” Andrew Laming, a member of Australia’s parliament, said after the deal was announced.

The deal comes two months after Turnbull’s government decided to welcome Central American refugees who were living in Costa Rican camps and might otherwise have attempted to go to the United States.

That decision caused some Australian politicians to wonder if Turnbull and President Obama’s were working on a quid pro quo, but the Australian government denied any such deal.

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“There is not, and there will be, no people swap,” a member of Turnbull’s administration said in September, following a refugee summit hosted by President Obama.

Kerry’s comments seemed to undermine that denial. “We are encouraging all countries to work with UNHCR, as we are going to on this subject that you’ve just asked about, to find a durable solution for these refugees,” Kerry told reporters. “And that was a key focus of the leaders’ summit that took place in New York in September, and my sense is that we’re reaching an understanding of how we may be able to deal with it.”

The refugee debate in Australia mirrored some aspects of the American debate over the influx of children from Central America. In both cases, humanitarians argued for the acceptance of the refugees, while immigration hawks decried human smuggling and warned against incentivizing more arrivals.

“Operation Sovereign Borders will continue to turn back people-smuggling ventures where it is safe to do so and any illegal maritime arrivals to Australia will be sent to regional processing centers,” Turnbull said. “Australia’s borders are now stronger than ever.”

Naming of Trump's chief of staff 'imminent'

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The naming of President-elect Trump’s chief of staff is “imminent,” his campaign manager said Saturday afternoon.

Kellyanne Conway, speaking to reporters in Trump Tower, said the Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus has “expressed interest” and was one of several candidates for the job, according to a pool report.

Another name floated to fill the chief of staff job has reportedly been Stephen Bannon, the leader of Breitbart News.

Conway, who made history as the first woman to run a winning campaign, also said that she wanted to serve in Trump’s future administration, but would not say what position might serve in.

11/12/16 4:43 PM

Keith Ellison could double down on Democrats' city strategy

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Pols familiar with Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison are unsurprised that he is gaining traction as a candidate to helm the Democratic National Committee, noting his progressive credentials, loyalty to the party, and the prospect that he could help to devise strategies for retaining the sort of progressive urban voters the party has become reliant upon.

“I’m intrigued by the thought of Rep. Ellison running the DNC,” said Thom Petersen, director of government relations for a Minnesota farmers’ group and a longtime Democratic activist. “I have known him since he was first elected to the Minnesota State House in 2002.

“His thing has always been voter turnout,” Petersen said. “He made it a top priority. He didn’t have to, because he

11/12/16 6:20 PM



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