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Congressional Republicans Demand Details of Secret Refugee Agreement

Australian Refugees at Nauru
The chairmen of the House and Senate judiciary committees sent a joint letter to secretaries of HomelandSecurity Jeh Johnson and State John Kerry are asking that the agreement to take in refugees Australia has refused to admit be declassified and made public. (Reuters photo)

Tuesday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) called on the Obama administration to declassify its plan to admit potentially more than 2,400 refugees who Australia has refused to admit.

In their letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Secretary of State John Kerry, Goodlatte and Grassley call for the declassification of the agreement so the American people can review it. The secretaries were instructed to respond by no later than Dec. 13.

These migrants are nationals of countries like Somalia, Syria, Pakistan, Iran and Sudan, as well as others," the chairmen wrote. "As you know, your agencies have deemed the agreement classified. This is despite the fact that classification of an agreement regarding individuals to be considered for admission by the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is unprecedented.

We appreciate your making staff available to provide us with the document in a classified setting and to brief us regarding the circumstances surrounding the agreement. It is now absolutely apparent to us that there was no reason for the agreement to be classified from the outset, and that it should not continue to be classified. To that end, we request that you declassify the document outlining the agreement so that the American people can read it.

The American people have a right to be fully aware of the actions of their government regarding foreign nationals who may be admitted to the United States. American taxpayers not only foot the bill for the majority of the refugee resettlement in the United States, but they bear any consequences regarding the security implications of those admitted to the U.S."

Last month, Goodlatte and Grassley expressed concern that the Obama administration's secret negotiations with Australia left Americans in the dark about the full scope of its resettlement plans and requested a briefing to review the classified agreement. The migrants are currently detained in Papua New Guinea and Nauru. 

Click here to read the entire letter. 

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