Australia-US asylum deal 'a slap to Trump voters'

File image of detainees on Nauru Source: AAP

American voters should have been told before the election about the Obama administration's deal with Australia to accept asylum seekers, US group says.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's secret deal with the Obama administration to re-settle refugees in the US is a slap in the face to the tens of millions of Americans who voted for Donald Trump, according to one of America's best known immigration reform groups.

Mr Turnbull's weekend announcement took executives at the Washington DC-based Federation for American Immigration Reform by surprise.

"I don't think many Americans are aware of this," FAIR spokesman, Ira Mehlman, told AAP on Monday.

"I follow this rather closely and I hadn't even heard of it."

Mr Mehlman said Americans should have been told before last week's presidential election about Australian-US negotiations for asylum seekers kept on Manus Island and Nauru to be re-settled in the US.

A tough anti-immigration stance was one of the key platforms that swept Mr Trump to victory so the deal, according to FAIR, goes against the wish of the American people.

Mr Trump and FAIR have questioned the ability for refugees from war-torn nations including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan to be comprehensively vetted to ensure they are not a security threat.

"This is basically a slap in the face to the voters who made their position clear last week," Mr Mehlman said.

He believes any transfer would have to be completed before Mr Trump is sworn in as president on January 20.

"It's hard to imagine they can resettle everybody within that timespan," Mr Mehlman said.

"Come January 20th the new administration can make its own decisions on a lot of issues."

FAIR describes itself as a non-profit, non-partisan organisation with more than 500,000 members and supporters.

Mr Mehlman said now that the deal has been made public his organisation would be taking a close look at it.

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