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Protestors against asylum seekers being deported, gather for a rally in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016. Australia was resisting mounting international pressure not to deport child asylum seekers, with a minister warning on Thursday that allowing them to stay could attract more refugees to come by boat. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

Australia announced plans to transfer hundreds of refugees to the United States



Australia's government announced Sunday that it had reached a resettlement deal with the United States. 

The "one-off agreement" means that hundreds of refugees currently being held in offshore detention facilities on the island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea will be transferred to the United States, according to USA Today

"Our priority is the resettlement of women, children and families," Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said. "This will be an orderly process. It will take time."

Right now, around 1,300 people are currently being held in offshore detention centers on the island nations of Nauru and Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, according to CNN

Most of those detainees are from the Middle East and South Asia. 

Multiple human rights abuses have been documented at these detention centers. Just last month, Amnesty International released a report that accused the Australian government of turning Nauru into an "open-air prison." 

Turnbull recently introduced legislation that would prevent any refugees or asylum seekers from settling in Australia if they arrived by boat. 

The prime minister said this latest deal will be administered by the UN High Commission on Refugees. 

Critics, such as the Human Rights Law Center, said Turnbull's resettlement plan is "full of holes." 

“This ugly chapter in our history only closes when every single man, woman and child suffering at our government’s hand on Nauru and Manus is finally rebuilding their lives in safety. No one can be left behind,” the center's director of legal advocacy Daniel Webb said in a statement.

Turnbull has also not said whether this deal was discussed with President-elect Donald Trump. 

"We deal with one administration at a time and there is only one president of the United States at a time," Turnbull said. 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that the U.S. has agreed to consider referrals. 

"We are going to work to protect vulnerable refugees around the world, and we'll share that responsibility with our friends in the regions that are most affected by this challenge," Kerry told USA Today. 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials will likely to head to Australia this week to begin assessing which refugees can be transferred. 

Those who refuse referral to the U.S. will be given a 20-year visa to stay on Nauru, according to USA Today.  

Neither government has said exactly how many refugees will be transferred. 

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