At least one of the 600 Manus Island, New Guinea refugees rejected by Australia is scheduled to arrive in Knoxville for resettlement, the Australian news outlet SBS News reported on Wednesday.
“Since 2013, Australia has paid Papua New Guinea, its closest neighbor, to house hundreds of migrants caught at sea while trying to reach the continent,” The New York Times reported in November.
“About 600 migrants, all men, and mostly from the Middle East and Southeast Asia, remain at the center [on Manus Island]. Most of them have sought status as refugees or asylum seekers,” The Times noted.
Now, many of these refugees rejected by Australia are coming to the United States, and one is headed to Knoxville.
“American officials said dozens if not hundreds of refugees from Manus and Nauru would be accepted in the coming weeks and months. About 50 men already moved to the United States in September under a deal brokered by former President Barack Obama,” The Times noted last year.
SBS News reported on Wednesday that dozens of refugees–all men–are currently heading for the United States to at least five cities: Knoxville, Tennessee; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Elizabeth, New Jersey; Atlanta, Georgia, and somewhere in North Carolina.
Through a complex arrangement of refugee resettlement efforts, a 22-year-old man named Sajid Hussain will arrive in Knoxville soon. His older brother, 29-year-old Mushtaq told SBS News that Sajid is ready to start a new life in Tennessee:
“He wants to study and work also, and he wants to see [our] parents because he was very young when he was locked in Manus Island. He like human rights and maybe he will study about human rights.”
It is unclear from the article if Sajid Hussain’s parents currently reside in Knoxville.
Meanwhile, SBS News says the elder Hussain brother Mushtaq lives in Indonesia and “is hoping to receive asylum in New Zealand.”
The costs and specific travel arrangements of the global transfers of these stateless refugees are handled by the US State Department, who ostensibly (but not actually) require the refugees to repay taxpayers for the travel expenses, once they are resettled.
Upon arrival in the United States, SBS News reports that at least four resettlement agencies including Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the International Rescue Committee and the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants are set to receive them, “to provide 90 days of support for new arrivals, including registering for identification and employment services and assisting with access to healthcare and education.”
Refugee Resettlement Watch (RRW) notes that each of these organizations are heavily subsidized by taxpayer dollars:
Nine US refugee contractors that monopolize all resettlement in the US (Number in parenthesis is the percentage of their income they receive from you—the taxpayer—in a recent financial analysis.)
- Church World Service (CWS) (71%)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC) (secular)(93%)
- Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) (99.5%)
- Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) (57%)
- International Rescue Committee (IRC) (secular) (66.5%)
- US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI) (secular) (98%)
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS) (97%)
- United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) (97%)
- World Relief Corporation (WR) (72.8%)
Catholic Charities of Tennessee, the local arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, manages the federal refugee resettlement program through its subsidiary, the Tennessee Office of Refugees.
Refugee admissions in the United States have been steadily declining under the Trump administration, from 84,995 in FY 2016, the last full year of the Obama administration, to slightly more than 53,000 in FY 2017, to just more than 6,000 in the 3 months and 25 days of FY 2018 to date, according to the State Department’s interactive website.
Refugee admissions in Tennessee have also declined over that time period, from 1,959 in FY 2016 to 1,048 in FY 2017, to 107 in FY 2018 year-to-date.
Most of those refugees have been resettled in four metropolitan areas of the state: Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga.
Since FY 2016, the top five countries of origins for refugees resettled in Tennessee are Democratic Republic of Congo (870), Iraq (438), Somalia (355), Syria (346), and Burma (273).
A detailed breakdown of refugee arrivals in the state since FY 2016, as obtained from the Department of State interactive website, can be seen here:TNREFUGEES_FY2016 to FY2018
In March, the Tennessee General Assembly sued the federal government to end the resettlement of refugees in the state on Tenth Amendment grounds. That suit is still pending in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.