Uniting Church minister Margaret Mayman speaks to activists during a protest outside the offices of the Australian Immigration Department in Sydney, Australia, February 4, 2016. REUTERS/Jarni Blakkarly
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Australian church leaders Thursday said they would offer sanctuary to asylum-seekers facing removal to a remote Pacific camp, vowing to defy the government's harsh immigration rules.The asylum-seekers, who were brought to Australia from Nauru mostly for medical reasons, number more than 260 and include 37 babies born in the country and 54 other children, advocates said. Asylum-seekers, including children, who try to reach Australia by boat are sent to off-shore detention centers in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, where they can be held indefinitely while refugee applications are processed.Many of the asylum-seekers brought to Australia from Nauru are being held at Wickham Point, a secure facility near Darwin in northern Australia, raising questions about how they would reach Brisbane or elsewhere.Across Australia, thousands of people protested Thursday against the possible off-shore transfer of the asylum-seekers, carrying signs reading "(Prime Minister) Malcolm Turnbull #LetThemStay".
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