[Senate Prints 111-52]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

111th Congress                                                  S. Prt.
 2d Session                 COMMITTEE PRINT                      111-52


                                A REPORT

                             TO THE MEMBERS

                                 OF THE


                          UNITED STATES SENATE

                     One Hundred Eleventh Congress

                             Second Session

                             JULY 21, 2010


     Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Relations

                   Available via World Wide Web:


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                 COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS        

             JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts, Chairman        
CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, Connecticut     RICHARD G. LUGAR, Indiana
RUSSELL D. FEINGOLD, Wisconsin       BOB CORKER, Tennessee
BARBARA BOXER, California            JOHNNY ISAKSON, Georgia
ROBERT MENENDEZ, New Jersey          JAMES E. RISCH, Idaho
BENJAMIN L. CARDIN, Maryland         JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
ROBERT P. CASEY, Jr., Pennsylvania   JOHN BARRASSO, Wyoming
JIM WEBB, Virginia                   ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
JEANNE SHAHEEN, New Hampshire        JAMES M. INHOFE, Oklahoma
              Frank G. Lowenstein, Staff Director        
        Kenneth A. Myers, Jr., Republican Staff Director        


                            C O N T E N T S

Letter of Transmittal............................................     v
Introduction.....................................................     1
Findings.........................................................     2
Recommendations..................................................     4
Overview.........................................................     6
    Case Study: Fort Wayne, Indiana..............................     7
    Case Study: Clarkston, Georgia...............................    11
Conclusion.......................................................    14
Acknowledgements.................................................    15
Appendix I--Summary of Refugee Admissions as of 30 April, 2010...    17
Appendix II--Official Letter from City of Fort Wayne, Indiana....    19
Appendix III--Refugee Article in the News-Sentinel...............    21
Appendix IV--Refugee Article in the Journal Gazette..............    23
Appendix V--Refugee Article in the New York Times................    24
Appendix VI--Legislation Introduced in the Georgia General 
  Assembly, April 2003...........................................    37
Appendix VII--Acronyms...........................................    38


                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL


                              United States Senate,
                            Committee on Foreign Relations,
                                     Washington, DC, July 21, 2010.
    Dear Colleagues: Since 1975, the United States has offered 
safe-haven to nearly 3 million refugees who faced persecution 
in Communist-controlled and conflict-ridden regions of the 
world. This resettlement reflects our Nation's noblest 
humanitarian traditions, and should continue. But we must 
acknowledge that significant costs are associated with this 
    After consulting with community stakeholders in Indiana and 
elsewhere, and in light of the recent Presidential directive 
authorizing the admission of up to 80,000 refugees in FY 2010, 
I asked the Foreign Relations Committee minority staff, who 
have long monitored the conditions of vulnerable refugee 
populations during their travels, under the leadership of 
professional staff member Garrett Johnson to assess the 
government's policies and programs for refugee admission and 
resettlement. Staff found that resettlement efforts in some 
U.S. cities are underfunded, overstretched, and failing to meet 
the basic needs of the refugee populations they are currently 
asked to assist. Especially in a difficult economic climate, 
the current structure of the U.S. resettlement system is 
proving a strain on local resources and community relations.
    As a former mayor, I am sensitive to the challenges faced 
by resettlement cities in Indiana and across the country. U.S. 
refugee policies and procedures are determined at the Federal 
level, but the burdens of addressing the unique needs of 
refugees after they arrive are passed on to local communities, 
often without their consent. Some resettled refugees are 
illiterate in their native language or suffer from severe 
physical or mental ailments and many are ill-equipped to secure 
employment in an increasingly competitive job market. The 
financial and mentoring assistance required to help this 
population achieve self-sufficiency exceeds the resources 
currently provided by the Federal Government.
    In Fort Wayne, IN, educators working with large refugee 
populations resettled in the city have expressed frustration 
because they lack the time and tools to address the 
extraordinary needs of refugee students. Poor performances on 
mandated standardized tests by some recently arrived refugee 
students, who often lack basic education after languishing in 
refugee camps for a decade or more, are negatively impacting 
the overall scores and reputations of schools. Public health 
officials also have raised concerns that some refugee 
populations, who have been found to suffer from elevated rates 
of latent tuberculosis (TB), are not undergoing adequate 
prearrival screening or properly monitoring their own 
treatment. Consequently, they face a higher risk of developing 
active TB, which is contagious and a potential health threat to 
the general population.


    The administration must demonstrate clearly to Congress and 
resettlement communities how federal resources will be better 
matched with refugee admissions. In order to supplement this 
report and the administration's inquiry, I have also asked the 
Government Accountability Office to undertake a comprehensive 
review of the U.S. refugee resettlement system. In the future, 
the administration may determine that an increase in Federal 
funding or decrease in refugee admissions is warranted. But the 
practice of passing the costs of resettling refugees on to 
local communities should not continue.
    I was pleased to learn recently that Representative Anh 
``Joseph'' Cao of Louisiana, who fled Communist-controlled 
Vietnam in 1975 as a refugee, was sponsored by a family from 
Goshen, IN, and spent many of his formative years as a Hoosier. 
His success and service as the first Vietnamese-American Member 
of Congress exemplifies the potential benefits gained by our 
country through offering safe haven to the persecuted of the 
world. The administration and Congress must ensure that the 
refugee resettlement system is properly structured so that it 
continues to be perceived as a benefit and not a burden.
    This report and its recommendations are particularly timely 
given that discussions on reforming the refugee resettlement 
system have been initiated within the administration. I look 
forward to continuing to work with you on these issues, and I 
welcome any comments you have.
                                          Richard G. Lugar,
                                                    Ranking Member.


    The United States, historically, is a nation of immigrants. 
In recent decades, however, it has also become a nation of 
refugees. Since 1975, the year in which hundreds of thousands 
of persons from Communist-controlled Vietnam started arriving 
on our shores, the United States has officially accepted for 
resettlement roughly 2.9 million refugees from strife-torn 
countries around the world. The United States has resettled 
more refugees than any other country.
     Legally, a refugee is someone admitted to the United 
States after Federal agencies have made a determination that he 
or she has been persecuted or has well-founded fear of 
potential persecution based on race, nationality, religion, 
membership in a particular group or political opinion and is 
unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin. By 
contrast, the majority of immigrants allowed to enter America 
generally decide to relocate for family reunion or economic 
     But experience has shown that there are also important 
qualitative differences between the two groups. Some refugee 
populations currently arriving in the United States have 
languished in refugee camps for nearly a decade or more. They 
are reported to have a much greater need for prolonged 
government support if they are to become conversant, employed 
and self-sufficient. Some are illiterate in their native 
language, these refugees have limited formal education, suffer 
from serious health or psychological conditions and lack the 
basic skills required to compete in an increasingly strained 
job market.
     In order to better understand the challenges confronting 
resettlement cities and the refugees admitted to the United 
States, Senator Richard Lugar, ranking member of the Senate 
Foreign Relations Committee, asked staff to assess the 
government's policies and programs for refugee admissions and 
resettlement. This study finds that resettlement efforts in 
many U.S. cities are underfunded, overstretched, and failing to 
meet the basic needs of the refugee populations they are 
currently asked to assist. Especially in a difficult economic 
climate, the study recommends that the Federal Government do 
more to support and resource the local communities who bear the 
responsibilities of receiving this increased flow. This study 
concludes that the policies promulgated in the Refugee Act of 
1980 and the current system of refugee processing, orientation, 
placement, and resettlement assistance are out-dated and fail 
to address the needs of the culturally and linguistically 
diverse populations now being admitted to the United States.
     This report will attempt to underscore a number of 
critical challenges confronting the refugee resettlement system 
and offer recommendations for better supporting local 
resettlement communities as well as improving the quality of 
assistance offered to refugees admitted to the United States.


    1. Under current practice, the Federal Government works 
with national voluntary organizations, including faith-based 
groups, to decide on where to send refugees for resettlement. 
These newcomers place demands, sometimes significant, on local 
schools, police, hospitals and social services. Local 
governments are often burdened with the weight of addressing 
the unique assistance refugees require, yet they rarely have an 
official role in influencing how many refugees are resettled by 
local voluntary agencies and often are not even informed in 
advance that new residents will be arriving.
    2. Although the ability to communicate--even on a basic 
level--is essential to the survival of refugee populations 
(e.g., access to employment for adults and educational 
opportunities for youth), resources for language instruction 
are inadequate. Unlike migrants in search of economic 
opportunities, who can often access extensive friend and family 
networks to navigate language or other cultural barriers, new 
refugee populations lack this type of community resource upon 
arrival. The language barrier often impedes the ability of 
refugees to navigate local health care systems with a potential 
wide impact on the general public health. Interviews conducted 
for this study with law enforcement officials also revealed 
grave public safety concerns, as language barriers often limit 
the ability of officers to communicate with refugees during 
emergency situations.
    A 2009 study completed by the Georgetown Law Human Rights 
Institute, based on consultations with Iraqi refugee 
communities in Washington, DC, Detroit, San Diego, and the 
country of Jordan, found that ``refugees have difficulty 
accessing English language training, the quality of instruction 
is poor, and there are simply not enough classes available for 
all refugees.'' \1\A 2008 study commissioned by the Office of 
Refugee Resettlement within the U.S. Department of Health and 
Human Services clearly noted that refugees arriving with some 
level of English proficiency, as well as those who receive ESL 
services, often have better outcomes.\2\
    \1\ Adess, S. et al. (2009). ``Refugee Crisis in America: Iraqis 
and Their Resettlement Experience.'' Washington, DC: Georgetown Law, 
available at www.law.georgetown.edu/news/.../
    \2\ Farrell, M. et al. (2008). ``The Evaluation of the Refugee 
Social Services (RSS) and Targeted Assistance Formula Grant (TAG) 
Programs: Synthesis of Findings From Three Sites.'' (Prepared by the 
Lewin Group and commissioned by the U.S. Department of Health and Human 
Services.) Available at www.lewin.com/content/publications/3871.pdf.
    3. At present, efforts to address the special needs of 
refugee students are ad hoc, a drain on local education 
funding, and implemented in the absence of data-driven best 
practices. Within the cities examined for this report, several 
schools labeled as failing or facing imminent risk of being 
taken over by state authorities have a high refugee student 
population. School administrators complained that refugee 
students--sometimes within weeks of arriving in the United 
States--are required to take standardized tests and their often 
poor performance is detrimental to the school's overall score. 
School administrators also reported receiving little to no 
additional Federal or State resources to increase staffing 
levels and offer additional assistance addressing the psycho-
social-cultural needs of refugee students.
    4. Currently, irrespective of important factors such as 
education level, health condition or psychological background 
each refugee is initially afforded one-size-fits-all 
assistance. Further, resettlement locations are provided very 
little, if any, prearrival information regarding these 
important factors, which could help the city to better prepare 
its social service infrastructure in anticipation of increased 
demands. For example, in Fort Wayne, IN, a pattern of elevated 
rates of hepatitis B among the Burmese was simply ``stumbled 
upon'' by local public health officials. The costly treatment 
associated with this life-long condition presents another 
significant cost the local community will be forced to bear.
    Unfortunately, federal funding formulas used to forecast 
resources provided to resettlement cities have proven too 
inflexible and backward-looking to respond to such public 
health concerns. The issue of monitoring when and where 
refugees move after they are initially resettled in the United 
States, known as secondary migration, also presents a critical 
challenge to the backward-looking funding system. Secondary 
migration within the first 8 months of resettlement can create 
hidden populations of unsupported refugees. There is currently 
no system in place to transfer refugee entitlement benefits 
(e.g., medical insurance, housing support, welfare support) 
from State to State, placing a further unexpected strain on 
    5. The initial per capita grant awarded directly to 
refugees for the first 30-90 days after arrival was increased 
from roughly $450 to $1,100 in January 2010.\3\ Prior to this 
increase, refugees were essentially consigned to poverty upon 
entering the United States, as the decades-old grant level had 
declined by more than 50 percent in real terms due to 
inflation. However, this increase, although welcomed, is 
proving to only delay the incidence of poverty, as many 
refugees lack a legitimate shot at becoming employed, 
conversant, and self-sufficient under the current system.
    \3\ In January, PRM increased the total Reception and Placement 
grant from $900 to $1,800. Of this amount, the local resettlement 
agency can use up to $700 to cover administrative expenses (i.e., 
salaries, rent, utilities, supplies, etc.). The remaining $1,100 must 
be spent on behalf of refugees. On a pilot basis, PRM gave local 
resettlement agencies some spending flexibility--requiring at least 
$900 to be spent on each refugee and the balance of $200 may be spent 
on other cases requiring additional financial assistance.
    6. There is limited Federal funding available to support 
programs that assist refugees after the initial resettlement 
assistance expires. Resources that exist are often not widely 
advertised, difficult to access and no technical assistance is 
made available to help local communities with submitting grant 
    7. From the perspective of local resettlement cities, it is 
clear that the Federal Government has failed to communicate 
what actions, if any, are being taken to build a resettlement 
system capable of accommodating the refugees authorized by the 
presidential directive for FY 2010, without placing additional 
strain on local community resources and detracting from the 
services extended to current refugees in-country.


    1. Enhance Formal Consultations with State and Local 
Leaders: The Bureau of Population Refugees and Migration (PRM) 
within the Department of State should restructure the process 
by which refugee resettlement is determined to include formal 
participation and consent from local leaders. Currently, 
voluntary agencies funded to provide placement services are 
only required by PRM to, in writing, briefly:

          Describe the date, content, and results of 
        consultative discussions undertaken by the affiliate 
        with state and local officials in preparing this 
        proposal, including the response of the state refugee 
        coordinator. For new sites, include evidence of 
        consultations with and support of other local 
        affiliates, refugee and community service providers, 
        and the state refugee coordinator.\4\
    \4\ PRM Official Document obtained in April 2010, ``FY 2010 
Affiliate/Sub-Office Abstract.''

    The restructured process should require local resettlement 
agencies to formally consult with state and local officials/
service providers in the resettlement site area regarding the 
proposed number and backgrounds of refugees to be resettled in 
the area. The qualitative and quantitative input given by local 
communities should be included as part of the Refugee Funding 
Proposals (RFPs) submitted by resettlement agencies.
    The refugee coordinators in each state and PRM 
representatives should verify that the consultations took place 
and that the views of the officials/service providers are 
accurately characterized in the RFPs. In cases of 
irreconcilable opinions amongst key stakeholders regarding 
absorptive capacity, the state refugee coordinator should be 
able to request a moratorium for the community. During this 
deferral period, PRM should engage community leaders and 
voluntary agencies in order to achieve consensus. The 
moratorium would make exception for cases of immediate family 
    2. Improve Access to English as Second Language (ESL) 
Courses: The administration should consider strategies, 
informed by best practices, for providing prearrival language 
instruction and enhanced access to longer term ESL classes once 
resettled so that more refugees are placed on a path to 
proficiency and eventual self-sufficiency. Among the top 
priorities of such strategies, as suggested by experts 
consulted for this report, should be allocating funding 
specifically for refugee language training and exploring ways 
to make some public assistance offered to refugees conditional 
upon ESL class attendance to incentivize proficiency. Courses 
should meet basic qualification standards in order to ensure 
quality control.
    3. Invest in Education: The administration should formulate 
national strategies, consistent with best practices, for 
engaging schools that are tasked with meeting the unique 
psycho-social-cultural needs of refugee students, so as not to 
detract from the quality of instruction offered to the general 
student population. Among the top priorities of such 
strategies, as suggested by educators consulted for this report 
\5\, should be efforts which:
    \5\ The recommendations reflect the opinions of educators from East 
Allen Community Schools and Fort Wayne Community Schools.

          A. Create a ``new-comers'' program that delays the 
        immersion of some refugee youth into the general 
        student population and provides them, in a separated 
        environment, instructors and curricula informed by best 
        practices. Implemented with Federal funding, the 
        program would evaluate each refugee's educational, 
        psychological, and physiological status as well as 
        provide intensive academic, cultural, and English 
        language instruction.
          B. Grant waivers to some refugee youth, under 
        conditions determined by a panel of experts, exempting 
        their scores on mandated standardized tests from 
        negatively influencing overall school performance due 
        to the often extraordinary circumstances surrounding 
        their initial resettlement.
          C. Increase funding and support for adult educational 
        and vocational training as well as recertification 
        programs for nontraditional refugee students. Encourage 
        ESL training that is linked to prevocational education 
        in order to facilitate learning for employment.

    4. Discard One-Size-Fits-All Approach: The overall 
resettlement system must be structured to identify and address 
the diverse needs of resettling populations. This should 
involve overseas gathering of information that is used to help 
local communities plan for and better meet refugee needs. Both 
the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and 
Overseas Processing Entities (OPE) currently interview refugees 
and asylum--seekers numerous times and at length throughout the 
adjudication process and before admission. Additional 
information could be collected either at the level of OPE 
processing and/or to be completed by UNHCR when completing the 
resettlement referral form. ORR, state refugee coordinators, 
local officials and voluntary agencies should be consulted in 
determining what type of information would be helpful to 
improving local service delivery and capacity planning. 
Additionally, this information should inform broad strategic 
planning before processing and placement begins.
    The administration should also ensure that funding formulas 
used to forecast resources provided to resettlement cities are 
more flexible, forward-looking and responsive to secondary 
migration flows.
    5. Improve Accountability: The administration should 

          A. Institutional processes and practices of voluntary 
        agencies, including but not limited to factors that 
        influence the scope of an agency's annual refugee 
        resettlement proposal submitted to PRM, organizational 
        structure, and administrative overhead to ensure an 
        adherence to best practices and a resettlement program 
        that is sensitive to local community capacity.
          B. Oversight and accountability metrics used by PRM 
        for monitoring voluntary agencies as well as mechanisms 
        for assessing internal strengths and inefficiencies 
        within PRM's administrative processes, the nature of 
        PRM's consultations with local and state elected 
        officials, and the factors influencing the annual cap 
        of refugees admitted to the United States.
          C. Mechanisms used for assessing internal strengths 
        and inefficiencies in the Office of Refugee 
        Resettlement (ORR) within the Department of Health and 
        Human Services, the nature of ORR's consultations with 
        local and state elected officials, and the extent of 
        ORR's capacity to oversee voluntary agency grantees, 
        address the unique needs of refugees, fact-find into 
        community capacity shortfalls as well as monitor the 
        impact of secondary migration--potentially through some 
        type of targeted census.
          D. Metrics for evaluating refugee integration, 
        including but not limited to qualitative and 
        quantitative measurements of employment levels, 
        language acquisition, community interaction, etc.
          E. Interagency coordination, including information-
        sharing and planning-coordination between ORR and PRM 
        as well as the potential value added by establishing a 
        centralized position to coordinate long- and short-term 
        refugee policy housed within or reportable to the White 

    6. Explore Innovative Models: The administration should 
engage State and local leaders with experience and expertise 
advancing local solutions to the challenges currently under 
review at the Federal level. The development and implementation 
of innovative resettlement models that incorporate lessons 
learned informed by grassroots experimentation should be 
encouraged and resourced.
    7. Promote Community Engagement: The administration should 
require voluntary agencies to submit as part of their annual 
proposals a ``community engagement strategy,'' which delineates 
concrete plans for increasing public awareness of and 
interaction with refugees, in order to achieve greater 
community cohesion. Unfortunately, the onus of initiating and 
funding this type of intercultural awareness and engagement is 
often left to individuals and community organizations and is 
usually ad hoc at best.
    Providing opportunities for established residents and 
families to engage members of the refugee population will help 
to demystify preconceptions and make integration more 
achievable. Encouraging face-to-face interactions between 
individuals or small groups can also make inter-ethnic 
encounters less intimidating for all participants.


     The United States has welcomed nearly 3 million refugees 
to this country since the 1970s, demonstrating our Nation's 
commitment to protecting those who face persecution throughout 
the world.\6\ But what becomes of the refugees and the 
locations in which they settle after they arrive?
    \6\ See appendix I. ``PRM Office of Admission--Refugee Processing 
Center, Summary of Refugee Admissions as of 30 April 2010.''
    A 2009 study conducted by Georgetown Law Human Rights 
Institute, based on consultation with Iraqi refugee communities 
in Washington, DC, Detroit, San Diego, and the country of 
Jordan, offered the following findings:

          The United States is opening its gates to refugees 
        and simply forgetting about them after they have 
        arrived. In the process, the United States is in danger 
        of failing to meet its legal obligations to extend 
        protection to the most vulnerable refugees, promote 
        their long-term self-sufficiency, and support their 
        integration. . . .
          Employment services, provided by [voluntary agencies] 
        and State agencies, are seriously underfunded and 
        unable to adequately help Iraqi refugees in their job 
        search. Lack of transportation remains a significant 
        barrier to securing and maintaining employment. English 
        as a Second Language (ESL) classes, generally 
        inadequate in both quality and duration, fail to help 
        Iraqis build marketable language skills. In addition, 
        the opportunity to pursue education and recertification 
        programs, prerequisites for many jobs, is either 
        unavailable or eclipsed by more immediate needs. Given 
        these barriers, it is not surprising that the vast 
        majority of Iraqi refugees interviewed were unemployed 
        despite expressing a strong desire to work.\7\
    \7\ Adess, S. et al. (2009). ``Refugee Crisis in America: Iraqis 
and Their Resettlement Experience.'' Washington, DC: Georgetown Law 
Human Rights Institute. Available at www.law.georgetown.edu/news/.../

     Field research undertaken for this study in the cities of 
Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Clarkston, Georgia, made similar 
findings.\8\ The challenges confronting the U.S. refugee 
assistance program, much like those confronting our nation's 
immigration policies in general, are significant and systemic. 
Strong leadership by the administration and Congress will be 
needed to offer a clear and practical way forward.
    \8\ The interviews and field visits that contribute to this study 
were conducted over the course of several years--from 2008 to present--
and may have been used in other documents generated by the author.
Case Study: Fort Wayne, IN
     After nearly two decades of welcoming and resettling 
refugees from disparate regions of the world the city of Fort 
Wayne, with a population of roughly 300,000, determined that it 
had reached a breaking point. City officials and community 
stakeholders felt they were sustaining a broken system on 
limited community resources and a wealth of goodwill. The city 
in November 2008 officially requested a resettlement moratorium 
from the State Family Social Services Administration.\9\ The 
city has accepted thousands of refugees throughout the years, 
starting with persons from South East Asia in 1975, but 
complained that the confluence of a tough economic climate and 
inadequate federal resources caused the latest influx of 
refugees to become unbearable.
    \9\ See appendix II. Official letter from Office of the Mayor, city 
of Fort Wayne, IN.
     The State of Indiana responded by stopping new arrivals to 
the city, except in the case of family reunification. But the 
problems caused by the existing refugee population and the 
post-arrival relocation of refugees, known as secondary 
migration, remain a concern. The city has appealed to Federal 
authorities for assistance, so far to little avail. A once-
welcoming environment has become what some persons interviewed 
called a ``potentially explosive situation.'' They cite recent 
examples in the local press of confrontations between American 
citizens and refugees. The most recent incident allegedly 
involved Burmese refugees publicly relieving themselves and/or 
spitting betel nut juice in a local laundromat store, which 
resulted in an employee of this business placing a sign on the 
door stating ``For sanitary reasons, there are no Burmese 
people allowed.'' \10\
    \10\ See appendix III and IV. Kevin Leininger. `` `No Burmese' Sign 
Draws Ire: Despite Business Owners Apology, City's Civil Rights 
Watchdog Is Investigating.'' News-Sentinel, 10 March 2010. Available at 
3100340. Devon Haynie. ``Burmese Demand Action on Prejudice: See 
Official Indifference to Sign at Laundry.'' Journal Gazette, 15 March 
2010. Available at http://www.journalgazette.net/article/20100315/
     The historical flows of refugee resettlements in Fort 
Wayne are estimated by local officials to originally have been 
between 100 and 200 each year. This was considered manageable, 
even if underresourced, by most within the community. Fred 
Gilbert, a community advocate for refugees, noted that most 
citizens were oblivious to the refugee population and were 
unaware that the resettlement program existed. However, 
decisions made at the Federal level to admit a higher number of 
Burmese refugees to the United States, many of whom had 
languished in refugee camps for nearly a decade or more, 
resulted in a dramatic and unexpected increase in refugees 
arriving in Fort Wayne in 2007.
     According to elected officials and community leaders, the 
city received roughly 700 Burmese refugees in 2007 and 800 in 
2008 without any notice of their impending arrival. Moreover, 
numerous city officials interviewed for this study said they 
had never been asked by resettlement agencies or by PRM whether 
the city could handle the newcomers.
     Coinciding with this increase in refugees was the global 
economic recession and decrease in demand for low-skilled labor 
throughout the region. For example, Elkhart, IN, visited by 
President Obama in February 2009 to underscore the Nation's 
depressed job markets, is roughly a 1.5 hour drive from Fort 
Wayne. It had an unemployment rate in March 2010 of 15.2 
percent, compared to Ft. Wayne's 11.1 percent.
     While the pace of resettlement dropped due to restrictions 
limiting new placements to family reunification, Fort Wayne has 
emerged as a ``community of choice'' for many Burmese resettled 
elsewhere around the country. Although no official system for 
tracking so-called secondary migration currently exists, city 
leaders estimate that Burmese have arrived at a rate of two 
secondary migrants for each refugee directly resettled in the 
city. The resources required to assist this flow of secondary 
migrants are not being directed to Fort Wayne because ORR and 
PRM have not established a mechanism for tracking such 
migration patterns. The significant strain accompanying 
secondary migrants was identified by each interviewee as Fort-
Wayne's most pressing refugee-related challenge.
     The concern surrounding secondary migration is warranted 
because some refugee populations have proven to pose special 
resettlement challenges. Many of the more than 6,000 Burmese 
refugees in Fort Wayne are illiterate in their native language, 
have few marketable skills, and are accustomed to government 
dependence after being confined to refugee camps for a decade 
or more. The demand that they become conversant, employed, and 
self-sufficient within PRM's 90-day time limit was deemed 
``cruel and unethical'' by Dr. Jeanne Zehr, assistant 
superintendent of East Allen Community Schools.
     Dr. Zehr noted that the five schools in her system with 
the highest population of refugee youth are considered to have 
the lowest academic performance rates according to Indiana 
accountability standards.\11\ She argued that many refugee 
youth should not be expected to compete with their American 
peers when they have ``never even seen a toilet or flushed a 
toilet because they were born in those camps.'' An American 
parent at one of the failing elementary schools, Dr. Zehr said, 
tried to lead an effort to have other parents withdraw their 
American students because she felt that the refugee youth were 
detrimental to her child's educational experience. The parents' 
appeal did not gain traction, but this type of response appears 
symptomatic of a general frustration.
    \11\ The five schools are Southwick Elementary School, Meadow 
Brooke Elementary School, Village Elementary School, Prince Chapman 
Middle School, and Paul Harding High School.
     The superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools, Dr. 
Wendy Robinson, acknowledged that two schools in her system 
with large refugee populations face imminent risk of being 
taken over by State authorities because of chronic 
underperformance.\12\ Dr. Robinson stated, ``We are robbing 
Peter to pay Paul. . . . The one-size-fits-all approach is just 
not working.'' The reality on the ground is that money is 
regularly diverted from other programs to address the special 
needs of refugee youth because ``they're our kids once they are 
here,'' she said.
    \12\ The two schools are South Side High School and North Side High 
     In FY 2009, East Allen Community Schools received $21,000 
and $15,000 went to Fort Wayne Community Schools as part of a 
larger $150,000 School Impact grant awarded to Indiana by ORR, 
but such a small grant is considered to be insufficient. Dr. 
Robinson contended, ``I need nurses, translators, 
psychologists. I visited one of my schools on the first day of 
the year and not one of the [refugee] students or parents spoke 
English. $15,000 is just a drop in the bucket.''
     Emphasis was placed on the need for additional staffing to 
address the unique backgrounds of refugee youth, such as 
nurses, because underresourcing could have consequences for the 
general student population. Deborah McMahan, Health 
Commissioner of Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health, 
confirmed that almost half of Burmese refugees screened have 
latent tuberculosis (TB). According to Dr. McMahan, there is a 
10- to 15-percent lifetime risk of developing active TB within 
this group \13\, a disease which is contagious, and one's 
susceptibility to developing active TB is increased by 
malnutrition and a weak immune system--each being prevalent 
among refugees. On average, as noted by the World Health 
Organization, each person with active TB infects 10-15 people 
before antibiotics, and isolation procedures render them 
noncontagious.\14\ Dr. McMahan contended that if 50 percent of 
the roughly 800 refugees resettled in 2008 are assumed to have 
latent TB, the city could have as many as 100 to 200 new cases 
of active TB within the Burmese population alone. In the 
absence of effective monitoring and treatment, this could 
present a significant threat to public health.
    \13\ The World Health Organization notes that 5-10 percent of 
people in general who are infected with TB become sick or infectious. 
Available at http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs104/en/index.html.
    \14\ Id.&
     Nancy Chamberlin, Deputy Chief of police in Fort Wayne, 
expressed concern for the safety of her officers who face the 
risk of exposure to TB when responding to situations within the 
Burmese community. She also referenced alarming incidents 
regarding elevated rates of violence and exploitation faced by 
women and children--citing a recent case in which a 50-year-old 
Burmese man was found offering the sexual services of a 14-
year-old female relative. Generally, she noted that many 
refugees are distrustful of officers due to previous 
experiences of persecution in their countries of origin and do 
not understand basic laws or social norms.
     Dr. McMahan also noted that prearrival health screenings 
no longer included HIV/AIDS testing, which she identified as 
very concerning given the elevated rates of infection sometimes 
found in refugee camps. Prior knowledge of HIV status, she 
explained, allows for better planning for the complicated care 
that refugees with such conditions require. Increasingly, the 
costs of these tests are being dropped on the laps of local and 
state governments.
     She further noted that PRM provides no prearrival 
population assessments or indicators to aid her in identifying 
the needs of the refugee groups the city resettles. The 
discovery of elevated occurrences of hepatitis B among the 
Burmese population, for example, was cited as a condition she 
simply ``stumbled'' upon. The expensive treatment associated 
with this life-long condition presents another significant cost 
the local community will be forced to bear.
     Totally neglected, she continued, is funding to combat 
substance abuse, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder 
as well as chronic health conditions like obesity, 
malnutrition, and hypertension--all of which disproportionately 
plague this population. The issue of inadequate funding for 
mental health treatment was underscored in the study by the 
Georgetown Law Human Rights Institute:

          [I]n many cases, refugees' health needs remain 
        untreated, compromising their ability to lead healthy, 
        functional lives. In San Diego, for example, refugees 
        with lingering mental health problems can wait 2 months 
        before seeing a doctor. Similarly, torture treatment 
        centers in the 8 States with the highest number of 
        Iraqi refugee arrivals are experiencing waitlists for 
        services. Other areas where Iraqi refugees are expected 
        to resettle in greater numbers, such as Idaho, 
        Tennessee, and upstate New York, do not have any 
        dedicated torture treatment centers and will therefore 
        require additional funding for training and capacity-
    \15\ Adess, S. et al. (2009). ``Refugee Crisis in America: Iraqis 
and Their Resettlement Experience.'' Washington, DC: Georgetown Law 
Human Rights Institute. Available at www.law.georgetown.edu/news/.../

    The complex nature of assistance required by some refugees, 
in States across the country, is seriously overstretched or not 
in place at all.
Case Study: Clarkston, GA
    A page one New York Times article published in January 2007 
by Warren St. John, which thrust the challenges confronting 
Clarkston, GA, into the foreground of national discussion, 
helped bring attention to the burdens many other cities across 
the United States are also attempting to address.\16\ The 
article described deeply concerning stories of prejudice, 
police brutality, and a small community of roughly 7,000 that 
was shattered under the pressure of a broken refugee 
resettlement system.
    \16\  See appendix V. Warren St. John. ``Refugees Find Hostility 
and Hope on Soccer Field.'' New York Times 21 Jan. 2007. Available at 
    However, the tensions highlighted in the article between 
the refugee population and most long-time residents, according 
to the Clarkston's former mayor, were not inflamed by deep-
seeded prejudice, but were rooted in the fact that resettlement 
agencies completely failed to warn the city that refugees would 
be placed in their community. When asked if city officials were 
consulted, Mayor Lee Swaney stated, ``We were not part of the 
process of bringing them here. We were told after the fact that 
they were coming.'' He argued that settling refugees in 
Clarkston, without coordinating with the city, left him with 
the lion's share of responsibility but no voice. In addition, 
refugees placed excessive burdens on already scarce resources 
because he claimed the city did not receive extra money to 
address the special needs of this population.
     In April 2003, Georgia Representative Karla Drenner, whose 
district includes Clarkston, in response to concerns 
articulated by constituents like Mayor Swaney, introduced 
legislation that would have compelled voluntary agencies 
working in the State to report to government authorities 
whenever 10 or more refugees were resettled in a 
municipality.\17\ This past year, she also convened a townhall 
meeting where she publicly encouraged the voluntary agencies 
located within the city to improve communication with elected 
officials and to provide more warning regarding when refugees 
were due to arrive. The current mayor of Clarkston, Howard 
Tygrett, reported that all of the resettlement agencies 
subsequently relocated outside of the city limits in order to 
circumvent this appeal and that communication has not improved 
since he assumed office roughly one year ago.
    \17\ 17 See Appendix VI. Legislation introduced in the Georgia 
General Assembly as House Bill 1002 by Representative Karla Drenner, 
April 2003. Available at http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2003_04/
     From the perspective of the resettlement agencies, 
Clarkston offered refugees the basic services needed to gather 
their bearings and get on their feet, which was their primary 
concern. The convenient access to the metro-Atlanta job market, 
nearby highway system, and affordable housing that made the 
city ideal for longtime residents were the factors that caused 
Clarkston to be selected as the primary resettlement city for 
all of Georgia.
     Since the most immediate challenge faced by refugees after 
arriving was finding employment as a means to reach self-
sufficiency, living in Clarkston made sense. Although 
Clarkston's business sector, comprised largely of small 
businesses, could not provide enough jobs, refugees had access 
to the city of Atlanta. Resettlement agencies thought that the 
low-skill jobs most refugee adults qualified for, because of 
their limited English and educational backgrounds, would be 
available in Atlanta.
     After finding work, however, figuring out how to get there 
every day became the next problem. As the former mayor noted:

          Transportation was a big issue and I can understand 
        why. If you get a job, but can't get there you are no 
        better off. So transportation was a big issue. Catching 
        MARTA, it played a big role because it was convenient.

MARTA, the public transportation system connecting Clarkston to 
the larger Atlanta area, made travel to work possible for 
struggling refugees unable to afford private vehicles.
     The abundance of affordable housing in Clarkston was 
identified by the resettlement agencies as the best option for 
refugees who needed the jobs available in Atlanta but could not 
afford its more expensive rent. Overbuilding during the 1980s 
created a situation in which the housing ratio was 80 percent 
multidwelling and 20 percent single-dwelling. Thus, Clarkston's 
apartments became home to refugees who for too long lived in 
the squalor of refugee camps.
     Each of these factors were important for helping refugees 
get on their feet, but the citizens of Clarkston were often 
left to deal with the problems that emerged long after the 
resettlement agencies were gone. To illustrate this point, the 
former mayor discussed the living conditions of some refugee 
families he observed who were unaccustomed to living in the 
apartments they were placed in. Mayor Swaney stated:

          I know that when the health department and I went 
        into some of these apartments you would not believe 
        what we saw. They had no idea how to live in one of 
        these places and I fault the agencies that brought them 
        here. If they come and they know what a toilet is for 
        and they know what a faucet and gas stove is then they 
        fit in to how we live here.

Further, when accidental fires were caused by inappropriate 
handling of household appliances, the burden fell on 
Clarkston's police department to deal with the emotional and 
structural damage. The deaths of four refugee youth, who were 
killed during a tragic apartment fire in 2008, underscored this 
     The former mayor contended that the collective burden of 
these issues caused resentment among some long-time residents. 
He cited many meetings he attended to discuss his grievances 
and to petition for these problems to be addressed by the 
resettlement agencies, but no action was taken because the 
agencies claimed to be financially constrained themselves.
     Between 1996 and 2001, nearly 20,000 refugees were sent to 
Georgia, and with most resettling in Clarkston or the 
surrounding areas, nearly half of the city's population were 
foreign-born or refugee at any given time.\18\ The current vice 
mayor, Emanuel Ransom, offered an anecdotal example in stating, 
``I am there most days court is held and 90 percent of the 
local people in the court cannot speak English.''
    \18\ Id.
     The larger ramifications of the strain associated with the 
resettlement process are best illustrated by focusing on the 
public school system in Clarkston. Teachers and administrators 
are said to be failing to address the special needs of the 
refugee youth, in addition to the needs of the general student 
population. Consequently, the deteriorating condition of 
overall instruction has fuelled significant shifts in the 
demographics of Clarkston's population.
     The reaction of many long-time residents of Clarkston to 
the increasing pressures placed on the educational system was 
simply to relocate. Regarding the state of Clarkston's schools, 
Luma Mufleh, a community advocate on behalf of refugees in 
Clarkston, remarked:

          I think it's unfair for the government to put a ton 
        of refugees in a city and not equip them with the 
        resources to handle them. The schools are all failing. 
        Every school in Clarkston is failing because schools 
        are not equipped to handle this. A teacher cannot teach 
        10 kids at 10 different levels. So, I understand their 
        frustration, but they need to come up with solutions. 
        All the white people have left because no one wants 
        their child to receive a bad education. I have lots of 
        friends who would be interested in moving to Clarkston 
        because of the diversity the city offers, but only if 
        they are single. My married friends would not think of 
        moving here because of the schools. They would not want 
        to put their kids in Clarkston's schools. So they have 
        to start with the schools because that is the biggest 

The resettlement process was contributing to divisions and 
resentment between refugee and nonrefugee populations in 
Clarkston. Further, because refugees lacked the means to move 
their families to cities with better schools, their children 
received what she believed to be second-rate educations and 
limited long-term options.
     While a local pastor noted that the flight of some long-
time Clarkston residents was driven by a desire to avoid the 
diverse populations entering the city, he cited firsthand 
experience of how important a consideration quality schools 
were for families with children. Pastor Phil Kitchen of 
Clarkston International Bible Church decided to register his 
own children in a different school system because of the horror 
stories he heard about Clarkston upon accepting the pastorate 
of his church. As his family prepared to relocate, he recalled 
several of the selectors on the church's search committee 
strongly advising him against considering Clarkston's schools 
because of their deplorable condition. The pastor stated:

          I remember talking with them and they recommended 
        that I keep my kids out of Clarkston's schools. So my 
        wife and I decided to live in the city a few miles away 
        for the sake of our family. Every parent wants their 
        child to receive the best education available and the 
        simple fact is that the kids in Clarkston are at a 

    According to recently released results from Georgia's 
statewide standardized math exam for the 2009-10 academic year, 
Clarkston High School has the highest percentage of failing 
scores of all metro-Atlanta schools--with 47.8 percent of 
students reported as failing.\19\
    \19\ D. Aileen Dodd and John Perry. ``New Curriculum: Math Anxiety 
for Students and Teachers.'' The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 20 May 
2010. Available at http://www.ajc.com/news/new-curriculum-math-anxiety-


     The American people have generously welcomed far more 
refugees than all other countries and we are a richer society 
for having embraced such diverse cultures. While offering safe 
haven to persecuted populations throughout the world remains a 
humanitarian imperative, the administration should avoid biting 
off more than local communities are capable of chewing. 
Especially in a difficult economic climate, force-feeding 
refugees into a broken system is proving to be detrimental to 
the longer term interests of refugees and to the cities that 
receive them.
     The U.S. resettlement program should be perceived as a 
benefit to local communities, not a burden. To the extent that 
the resettlement cities included in this report are building 
intercultural bridges and making the system work, it often 
appears to occur in spite of government resources and not 
because of them. Best articulated by Senator Edward Kennedy in 
a 1981 report discussing the Refugee Act of 1980--legislation 
he authored--he argued that the administration and Congress 
should ensure local communities are not negatively impacted by 
``programs they did not initiate and for which they were not 
responsible.'' \20\ Immediate action is required to make this a 
reality today.
    \20\  Kennedy, E. M. (1981). ``Refugee Act of 1980.'' International 
Migration Review, Vol. 15, No. \1/2\ Refugees Today (Spring-Summer, 

    The following contributed in some way to the preparation of 
this report, or continue to assist the committee with this 
ongoing project.

U.S. Government:

    National Security Council
    Department of Health and Human Services
    Department of State


   Susan Boyle, Former State Refugee Coordinator, State 
        of Indiana
   Jay Branegan, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
   Susan Brouillette, Senator Lugar's Office, 
        Indianapolis, Indiana
   Nancy Chamberlin, Deputy Chief, Southeast Division, 
        Fort Wayne Police Department
   Meg Distler, St. Joseph Community Health Foundation, 
        Fort Wayne, Indiana
   Karla Drenner, Georgia House of Representatives, 
        State of Georgia
   Cathy Gallmeyer, Senator Lugar's Office, Fort Wayne, 
   Palermo Galindo, Hispanic and Immigrant Liaison, 
        Fort Wayne, Indiana
   Mark GiaQuinta, President, Fort Wayne Community 
   Fred Gilbert, Social Worker, Fort Wayne Indiana
   David Gogol, Vice-Chair, B&D Consulting
   Joe Johns, Director of Missional Living, Fellowship 
        Missionary Church, Fort Wayne, Indiana
   Emily Keirns Schwartz, Coordinator, English language 
        Learners (ELL), Fort Wayne Community Schools
   Phil Kitchin, Pastor, Clarkston International Bible 
   Desiree Koger-Gustafson, Staff Attorney, 
        Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic
   Keith Luse, Senate Foreign Relations Committee
   Dr. Deborah McMahan, Commissioner, Fort Wayne-Allen 
        County Department of Health
   Luma Mufleh, CEO and Coach, Fugees Family
   Jim Murua, Assistant Chief Fire Marshal, City of 
        Fort Wayne
   Emanuel Ransom, Vice-Mayor, City of Clarkston
   Wendy Robinson, Superintendent, Fort Wayne Community 
   Debbie Schmidt, Executive Director, Catholic 
   Tony Scipio, Chief of Police, City of Clarkston
   Lee Swaney, Former Mayor, City of Clarkston
   Minn Myint Nan Tin, Burmese Advocacy Center, Fort 
        Wayne, Indiana
   Helen Townsend, Refugee Health Coordinator, State of 
   Howard Tygrett, Mayor, City of Clarkston
   Monica Vela, Refuge Support/ELL Liaison, Fort Wayne 
        Community Schools
   Becky Weimerskirch, Executive Director, Community 
        Transportation Network, Inc.
   Bernard White L. III, Licensed Special Education 
        Teacher, Paul Harding High School
   Ocleva Williams, Neighborhood Action Center, Autumn 
   Dr. Julie Zehr, Assistant Superintendent, East Allen 
        County Schools
                               APPENDIX I


           Summary of Refugee Admissions as of 30 April 2010

                              APPENDIX II


              Official Letter From City of Fort Wayne, IN

                              APPENDIX III


                  Refugee Article in The News-Sentinel

``No Burmese'' Sign Draws Ire Despite Business Owner's Apology, City's 
                 Civil-Rights Watchdog Is Investigating

                          (By Kevin Leininger)

    Some of their customers' actions, management says, were 
    But by targeting an entire ethnic group instead of the 
unacceptable behavior, an employee's sign has forced the 
Anderson-based owner of a local business to apologize and drawn 
the attention of the city's civil-rights watchdog.
    ``For sanitary reasons, there are no Burmese people 
allowed,'' read the sign that was posted on the door of Ricker 
Oil Co.'s coin-operated laundry on South Calhoun Street near 
Rudisill Boulevard--until an irate passerby alerted the offices 
of the Burmese Advocacy Center, 2826 S. Calhoun St., and the 
Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, igniting a firestorm of 
protest in the media and on the Internet culminating in 
Tuesday's apology from President Jay Ricker.
    ``Unfortunately, an employee responded to an alarming 
situation in an appropriate manner . . . the sign in question 
was removed, and we are exploring appropriate disciplinary 
action,'' Ricker said in a statement. ``It is the policy of 
Ricker's to welcome all patrons to its facilities. We are 
committed to maintaining a positive relationship with all 
members of the communities we serve.'' Ricker's, founded in 
1979, has more than 700 employees and operates 49 convenience 
stores and two laundries.
    Desiree Koger-Gustafson, attorney for the legal clinic that 
serves mostly low-income and immigrant clients, said she was 
going to protest the sign, but its removal and the apology were 
sufficient for her to drop the matter.
    ``Someone should inform (whoever wrote the sign) of the 
last few decades of civil-rights laws. Some people still think 
you can do this kind of thing,'' she said.
    Gerald Foday isn't one of those people, however. The 
director of Fort Wayne's Metropolitan Human Relations 
Commission said his agency may file a complaint, and could 
pursue civil-rights charges against Ricker's if an 
investigation warrants it. Sanctions could include fines, 
mandatory employee training and other remedies, he said.
    ``You can sanction behavior based on health,'' he said--but 
you can't banish an entire group based on the actions of 
certain individuals.
    Ricker's spokesman Jonathan Bausman did not want to 
elaborate on the behaviors resulting in the sign. ``We don't 
want it to seem like we're trying to justify it,'' he said.
    But signs still posted at the laundry in English and 
Burmese offer a clue: ``No spitting! No betel nut!'' they read.
    According to Koger-Gustafson, many Burmese chew betel nut, 
which is common in their country of Burma, or Myanmar as it's 
called by the ruling junta, and spit the residue, which can 
result in red stains. Bausman said Ricker's has discussed its 
concerns about certain behaviors with Burmese advocates and the 
Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health, and said other 
companies have expressed similar concerns.
    Health department spokesman John Silcox said there are 
``ongoing issues about what can and can't be tolerated'' with 
newly arriving immigrant and refugee groups, especially in the 
area of hygiene. Fort Wayne is home to about 5,000 Burmese--the 
largest concentration in the United States.
    The sign's removal and Ricker's apology don't satisfy all 
    Kyaw Soe, who came to Fort Wayne from Burma in 1993 and is 
director of IPFW's New Immigrant Literacy Program, visited the 
laundry Tuesday and said he still considers it an unfriendly 
place for Burmese.
    ``There were signs (in Burmese prohibiting certain actions) 
in every room. There were 22 in Burmese to only one in Spanish. 
It's nonverbal behavior that is non-welcoming. We need more 
education, more cultural sensitivity.''
    Those signs about not using betel nut apparently didn't 
originate with Ricker's, however. Koger-Gustafson said they 
were provided by the Burmese Advocacy Center.
    In fact, one was posted Tuesday atop the counter at the 
group's office.

                              APPENDIX IV


                 Refugee Article in The Journal Gazette

Burmese Demand Action on Prejudice See Official Indifference To Sign at 

                           (By Devon Haynie)

    Dozens of shivering Burmese gathered in front of the 
Courthouse on Sunday to urge government officials to publicly 
denounce discrimination against their community.
    Organizers said the rally was a response to the 
government's lack of reaction to a controversial sign posted at 
Ricker's City Laundry on South Calhoun Street several weeks 
ago. The sign, which has since been removed, read, ``For 
Sanitary Purposes, There Are No Burmese People Allowed.'' Jay 
Ricker, head of the company, has since apologized for the sign, 
but Burmese at the rally said it was not enough to ease their 
fears of continued discrimination.
    ``The government has been silent,'' said Maung Maung Soe, 
one of the event's organizers. ``If the government does not 
take action, we will take legal action.''
    Details surrounding the sign remain unclear. But by all 
accounts, it seems that a lone employee posted it, perhaps in 
response to the Burmese tradition of chewing betel nuts and 
spitting out the juice. Ricker posted an apology on Facebook 
and read an apology in a video posted on YouTube.
    At the rally, members of the Burmese community held signs 
reading ``We Want Equal Rights'' and ``We Are Burmese 
Americans.'' Organizers said they planned to stage a larger 
rally in a few days, but had to keep the gathering small 
because they hadn't received a permit.
    Fort Wayne is home to about 5,500 people from Myanmar, 
formerly known as Burma. Many are legal refugees who fled the 
country to escape the country's 60-year civil war.
    ``We aren't foreigners coming to visit; we are citizens,'' 
said Nyan Aung, an event organizer who has lived in the United 
States since 1993. ``We need to be treated more like other 
people. (People) need to respect our human rights.''
    Thandar Thet, a 15-year-old sophomore at North Side High 
School, came to the rally with her father and 5-year-old 
brother. She said the sign posting made her feel uneasy about 
her future in Fort Wayne.
    ``I've never been discriminated against, but I don't 
believe this is right,'' Thet said. ``My parents came to 
America for freedom. They talked about discrimination in Burma, 
but that is what we came here to escape.''

                               APPENDIX V


                 Refugee Article in The New York Times

                [From the New York Times, Jan. 21, 2007]

            Refugees Find Hostility and Hope on Soccer Field

                          (By Warren St. John)

Editors' Note Appended

Correction Appended

    Clarkston, Ga., Jan. 20.--Early last summer the mayor of 
this small town east of Atlanta issued a decree: no more soccer 
in the town park.
    ``There will be nothing but baseball down there as long as 
I am mayor,'' Lee Swaney, a retired owner of a heating and air-
conditioning business, told the local paper. ``Those fields 
weren't made for soccer.''
    In Clarkston, soccer means something different than in most 
places. As many as half the residents are refugees from war-
torn countries around the world. Placed by resettlement 
agencies in a once mostly white town, they receive 90 days of 
assistance from the government and then are left to fend for 
themselves. Soccer is their game.
    But to many longtime residents, soccer is a sign of 
unwanted change, as unfamiliar and threatening as the hijabs 
worn by the Muslim women in town. It's not football. It's not 
baseball. The fields weren't made for it. Mayor Swaney even has 
a name for the sort of folks who play the game: the soccer 
    Caught in the middle is a boys soccer program called the 
Fugees--short for refugees, though most opponents guess the 
name refers to the hip-hop band.
    The Fugees are indeed all refugees, from the most troubled 
corners--Afghanistan, Bosnia, Burundi, Congo, Gambia, Iraq, 
Kosovo, Liberia, Somalia and Sudan. Some have endured 
unimaginable hardship to get here: squalor in refugee camps, 
separation from siblings and parents. One saw his father killed 
in their home.
    The Fugees, 9 to 17 years old, play on three teams divided 
by age. Their story is about children with miserable pasts 
trying to make good with strangers in a very different and 
sometimes hostile place. But as a season with the youngest of 
the three teams revealed, it is also a story about the 
challenges facing resettled refugees in this country. More than 
900,000 have been admitted to the United States since 1993, and 
their presence seems to bring out the best in some people and 
the worst in others.
    The Fugees' coach exemplifies the best. A woman 
volunteering in a league where all the other coaches are men, 
some of them paid former professionals from Europe, she spends 
as much time helping her players' families make new lives here 
as coaching soccer.
    At the other extreme are some town residents, opposing 
players and even the parents of those players, at their worst 
hurling racial epithets and making it clear they resent the 
mostly African team. In a region where passions run high on the 
subject of illegal immigration, many are unaware or unconcerned 
that, as refugees, the Fugees are here legally.
    ``There are no gray areas with the Fugees,'' said the 
coach, Luma Mufleh. ``They trigger people's reactions on class, 
on race. They speak with accents and don't seem American. A lot 
of people get shaken up by that.''

                      LOTS OF RUNNING, MANY RULES

    The mayor's soccer ban has everything to do with why, on a 
scorching August afternoon, Ms. Mufleh--or Coach Luma, as she 
is known in the refugee community--is holding tryouts for her 
under-13 team on a rutted, sand-scarred field behind an 
elementary school.
    The boys at the tryouts wear none of the shiny apparel or 
expensive cleats common in American youth soccer. One plays in 
ankle-high hiking boots, some in baggy jeans, another in his 
socks. On the barren lot, every footfall and pivot produces a 
puff of chalky dust that hangs in the air like fog.
    Across town, the lush field in Milam Park sits empty.
    Ms. Mufleh blows her whistle.
    ``Listen up,'' she tells the panting and dusty boys. ``I 
don't care how well you play. I care how hard you work. Every 
Monday and Wednesday, I'm going to have you from 5 to 8.'' The 
first half will be for homework and tutoring. Ms. Mufleh has 
arranged volunteers for that. The second half will be for 
soccer, and for running. Lots of running.
    ``If you miss a practice, you miss the next game,'' she 
tells the boys. ``If you miss two games, you're off the team.''
    The final roster will be posted on the bulletin board at 
the public library by 10 Friday morning, she says. Don't bother 
to call.
    And one more thing. She holds up a stack of paper, 
contracts she expects her players to sign. ``If you can't live 
with this,'' she says, ``I don't want you on this team.''
    Hands--black, brown, white--reach for the paper. As the 
boys read, eyes widen:

I will have good behavior on and off the field.
I will not smoke.
I will not do drugs.
I will not drink alcohol.
I will not get anyone pregnant.
I will not use bad language.
My hair will be shorter than Coach's.
I will be on time.
I will listen to Coach.
I will try hard.
I will ask for help.
I want to be part of the Fugees!

                           A TOWN TRANSFORMED

    Until the refugees began arriving, the mayor likes to say, 
Clarkston ``was just a sleepy little town by the railroad 
    Since then, this town of 7,100 has become one of the most 
diverse communities in America.
    Clarkston High School now has students from more than 50 
countries. The local mosque draws more than 800 to Friday 
prayers. There is a Hindu temple, and there are congregations 
of Vietnamese, Sudanese and Liberian Christians.
    At the shopping center, American stores have been displaced 
by Vietnamese, Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurants and a halal 
butcher. The only hamburger joint in town, City Burger, is run 
by an Iraqi.
    The transformation began in the late 1980s, when 
resettlement agencies, private groups that contract with the 
federal government, decided Clarkston was perfect for refugees 
to begin new lives. The town had an abundance of inexpensive 
apartments, vacated by middle-class whites who left for more 
affluent suburbs. It had public transportation; the town was 
the easternmost stop on the Atlanta rail system. And it was 
within commuting distance of downtown Atlanta's booming 
economy, offering new arrivals at least the prospect of 
    At first the refugees--most from Southeast Asia--arrived so 
slowly that residents barely noticed. But as word got out about 
Clarkston's suitability, more agencies began placing refugees 
here. From 1996 to 2001, more than 19,000 refugees from around 
the world resettled in Georgia, many in Clarkston and 
surrounding DeKalb County, to the dismay of many longtime 
    Many of those residents simply left. Others stayed but 
remained resentful, keeping score of the ways they thought the 
refugees were altering their lives. There were events that 
reinforced fears that Clarkston was becoming unsafe: a mentally 
ill Sudanese boy beheaded his 5-year-old cousin in their 
Clarkston apartment; a fire in a crowded apartment in town 
claimed the lives of four Liberian refugee children.
    At a town meeting in 2003 meant to foster understanding 
between the refugees and residents, the first question, 
submitted on an index card, was, ``What can we do to keep the 
refugees from coming to Clarkston?''

                         A COACH WITH A PASSION

    Luma Mufleh, 31, says she was born to coach. She grew up in 
Amman, Jordan, in a Westernized family, and attended the 
American Community School, for American and European 
expatriates and a few well-to-do Jordanians. There, Muslim 
girls were free to play sports as boys did, and women were 
permitted to coach.
    Her mentor was an American volleyball coach who demanded 
extreme loyalty and commitment. Ms. Mufleh picked up on a 
paradox. Though she claimed to dislike her coach, she wanted to 
play well for her.
    ``For the majority of the time she coached me, I hated 
her,'' Ms. Mufleh said. ``But she had our respect. Until then, 
I'd always played for me. I'd never played for a coach.''
    Ms. Mufleh attended college in the United States, in part 
because she felt women here had more opportunities. She went to 
Smith College, and after graduation moved to Atlanta. She soon 
found her first coaching job, as head of a 12-and-under girls 
soccer team through the local Y.M.C.A.
    On the field, Ms. Mufleh emulated her volleyball coach, an 
approach that did not always sit well with American parents. 
When she ordered her players to practice barefoot, to get a 
better feel for the soccer ball, a player's mother objected on 
the grounds that her daughter could injure her toes.
    ``This is how I run my practice,'' Ms. Mufleh told her. 
``If she's not going to do it, she's not going to play.''
    Ms. Mufleh's first team lost every game. But over time her 
methods paid off. Her players returned. They got better. In her 
third season, her team was undefeated.
    When Ms. Mufleh learned about the growing refugee community 
in Clarkston, she floated the idea of starting a soccer 
program. The Y.M.C.A. offered to back her with uniforms and 
equipment. So in the summer of 2004, Ms. Mufleh made fliers 
announcing tryouts in Arabic, English, French and Vietnamese 
and distributed them around apartment complexes where the 
refugees lived.
    For a coach hoping to build a soccer program in Clarkston, 
the biggest challenge was not finding talented players. There 
were plenty of those, boys who had learned the game in refugee 
camps in Africa and in parking lots around town. The difficulty 
was finding players who would show up.
    Many of the players come from single-parent families, with 
mothers or fathers who work hours that do not sync with sports 
schedules. Few refugee families own cars. Players would have to 
be self-sufficient.
    On a June afternoon, 23 boys showed up for the tryouts.
    From the beginning, the players were wary. A local church 
offered a free basketball program for refugee children largely 
as a cover for missionary work.
    Others simply doubted that a woman could coach soccer.
    ``She's a girl--she doesn't know what she's talking 
about,'' Ms. Mufleh overheard a Sudanese boy say at an early 
    She ordered him to stand in the goal. As the team watched, 
she blasted a shot directly at the boy, who dove out of the 
    ``Anybody else?'' she asked.

                        IN BRUTAL PASTS, A BOND

    Jeremiah Ziaty, one of those early players, is a typical 
member of the Fugees.
    In 1997, in the midst of Liberia's 14 years of civil war, 
rebels led by Charles Taylor showed up one night at the Ziatys' 
house in Monrovia. Jeremiah's father was a low-level worker in 
a government payroll office. The rebels thought he had money. 
When they learned he did not, they killed him in the family's 
living room.
    Beatrice Ziaty, Jeremiah's mother, grabbed her sons and 
fled out the back door. The Ziatys trekked through the bush for 
a week until they reached a refugee camp in the Ivory Coast. 
There, they lived in a mud hut and scavenged for food. After 
five years in the camp, Ms. Ziaty learned her family had been 
accepted for resettlement in Clarkston, a town she had never 
heard of.
    The United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants in 
Washington estimates that there are now more than 12 million 
refugees worldwide and more than 20 million people displaced 
within their own nations' borders. In 2005, only 80,800 were 
accepted by other nations for resettlement, according to the 
United Nations.
    The Ziatys' resettlement followed a familiar script. The 
family was lent $3,016 for one-way airline tickets to the 
United States, which they repaid in three years. After a two-
day journey from Abidjan, they were greeted in Atlanta by a 
case worker from the International Rescue Committee, a 
resettlement organization. She took them to an apartment in 
Clarkston where the cupboard had been stocked with canned 
    The case worker helped Ms. Ziaty find a job, as a maid at 
the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the affluent Buckhead section of 
Atlanta, one that required an hour commute by bus. While 
walking home from the bus stop after her first day, Ms. Ziaty 
was mugged and her purse stolen.
    Terrified of her new surroundings, Ms. Ziaty told her son 
Jeremiah never to leave the house. Like any 8-year-old, 
Jeremiah bristled. He especially wanted to play soccer. Through 
friends in the neighborhood, he heard about tryouts for the 
    ``When he tell me, `Mom, I go play soccer,' I tell him he's 
too small, don't go out of the house,'' Ms. Ziaty recalled. 
``Then he would start crying.''
    Ms. Ziaty relaxed her rule when she met Ms. Mufleh, who 
promised to take care of her son.
    That was three years ago. At age 11, Jeremiah is a leader 
of the 13-and-under Fugees, shifting among sweeper, center 
midfielder and center forward.
    Other members of the Fugees also have harrowing stories. 
Qendrim Bushi's Muslim family fled Kosovo when Serbian soldiers 
torched his father's grocery store and threatened to kill them. 
Eldin Subasic's uncle was shot in Bosnia. And so on.
    The Fugees, Ms. Mufleh believed, shared something intense. 
They knew trauma. They knew the fear and loneliness of the 
newcomer. This was their bond.
    ``In order to get a group to work together, to be effective 
together, you have to find what is common,'' she said. ``The 
refugee experience is pretty powerful.''

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    Ms. Mufleh made a point never to ask her players about 
their pasts. On the soccer field, she felt, refugees should 
leave that behind.
    Occasionally, though, a boy would reveal a horrific memory. 
One reported that he had been a child soldier. When she 
expressed frustration that a Liberian player tuned out during 
practice, another Liberian told her she didn't understand: the 
boy had been forced by soldiers to shoot his best friend.
    ``It was learning to not react,'' Ms. Mufleh said. ``I just 
wanted to listen. How do you respond when a kid says, `I saw my 
dad shot in front of me'? I didn't know.''
    As a Jordanian in the Deep South, Ms. Mufleh identified in 
some ways with the refugees. A legal resident awaiting a green 
card, she often felt an outsider herself, and knew what it was 
like to be far from home.
    She also found she was needed. Her fluent Arabic and 
conversational French came in handy for players' mothers who 
needed to translate a never-ending flow of government 
paperwork. Teachers learned to call her when her players' 
parents could not be located. Families began to invite her to 
dinner, platters of rice and bowls of leafy African stews. The 
Ziatys cut back on the peppers when Coach Luma came over; they 
learned she couldn't handle them.
    Upon hearing of the low wages the refugee women were 
earning, Ms. Mufleh thought she could do better. She started a 
house and office cleaning company called Fresh Start, to employ 
refugee women. The starting salary is $10 an hour, nearly 
double the minimum wage and more than the women were earning as 
maids in downtown hotels. She guarantees a 50-cent raise every 
year, and now employs six refugee women.
    Ms. Mufleh said that when she started the soccer program, 
she was hopelessly naive about how it would change her life.
    ``I thought I would coach twice a week and on weekends--
like coaching other kids,'' she said. ``It's 40 or 60 hours a 
week--coaching, finding jobs, taking people to the hospital. 
You start off on your own, and you suddenly have a family of 

                          OFF TO A ROUGH START

    On a Friday morning in August, the boys come one by one to 
look for their names on the roster at the public library. Many 
go away disappointed, but six do not.
    The new players are:
    Mohammed Mohammed, 12, a bright-eyed Iraqi Kurd whose 
family fled Saddam Hussein for Turkey five years ago and who 
speaks only a few words of English.
    Idwar and Robin Dikori, two rocket-fast Sudanese brothers, 
12 and 10, who lost their mother, sister and two younger 
brothers in a car crash after arriving in Clarkston.
    Shahir Anwar, 13, an Afghan whose parents fled the Taliban 
and whose father suffered a debilitating stroke soon after 
arriving in this country.
    Santino Jerke, a shy 11-year-old Sudanese who has just 
arrived after three years as a refugee in Cairo.
    Mafoday Jawneh, a heavyset boy of 12 whose family fell out 
of favor after a coup in Gambia, and who has a sensitive side; 
his older brother ribs him for tearing up during ``The Oprah 
Winfrey Show.''
    Ms. Mufleh is uncertain of her team's prospects. She will 
have to teach the new players the basics of organized soccer. 
There are no throw-ins or corner kicks in the street game they 
have been playing.
    In her occasional moments of self-doubt, Ms. Mufleh asks 
herself: Can I really get these boys to play together? Can I 
really get them to win?

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    The Fugees' first practice this season is on a sultry 
August afternoon, with thunderclouds looming in the distance. 
After 90 minutes of studying, the team runs for half an hour 
and groans through situps, push-ups and leg lifts.
    But the Fugees have no soccer goals. The Y.M.C.A., which 
sponsors the team, did not place the order, despite a $2,000 
grant for the purpose. Ms. Mufleh quietly seethes that a team 
of wealthy children would probably not have to wait for soccer 
goals. She likens practice to ``playing basketball without a 
    The team's first games portend a long season. The Fugees 
tie their first game, 4-4. In their next game, they surrender a 
lead and lose, 3-1. The team isn't passing well. Players aren't 
holding their positions.
    On a sweltering afternoon in early September, the Fugees 
prepare to take the field against the Triumph, a team from 
nearby Tucker. Even before the game, there is a glaring 
difference between the Fugees and their competition. The 
Triumph have brought perhaps 40 parents, siblings and friends, 
who spread out with folding chairs and picnic blankets and are 
loaded down with enough energy bars and brightly colored sports 
drinks for an N.B.A. team.
    Though this is technically a home game, no one is on the 
Fugees' side. During the course of the season, only one Fugees 
parent will make a game.
    The Fugees lead, 2-0, at halftime. In the second half, they 
put on a show: firing headers, bicycle kicks and a gorgeous 
arcing shot from 30 yards out. Even the parents of the Triumph 
gasp and clap in appreciation. At the final whistle, the Fugees 
have won, 5-1.
    ``Not bad,'' Ms. Mufleh tells her team. ``But next week 
will be a much better game, O.K.?''

                           A CALL FOR CHANGE

    Ms. Mufleh has a list of complaints about the Fugees' 
practice field: little grass, no goals. Neighborhood children 
regularly wander through the scrimmages, disrupting play.
    But after a gang shooting in an apartment complex behind 
the field in late September, she concludes that the field is 
not safe. She cancels practice for two days. Fed up, she storms 
into Mayor Swaney's office, demanding use of the empty field in 
Milam Park.
    When Lee Swaney first ran for City Council in Clarkston 
more than 15 years ago, he did so as an unabashed 
representative of ``Old Clarkston''--Clarkston before the 
refugees. It was certainly the more politically viable stance. 
Because few of the refugees have been in the country long 
enough to become citizens and vote, political power resides 
with longtime residents. The 2005 election that gave Mr. Swaney 
a second four-year term as mayor of this town of 7,100 was 
determined by just 390 voters.
    As mayor, Mr. Swaney has frequently found himself caught 
between these voters and the thousands of newcomers. But he has 
also taken potentially unpopular steps on behalf of the 
refugees. In 2006 he forced the resignation of the town's 
longtime police chief, in part because of complaints from 
refugees that Clarkston police officers were harassing them. 
Mr. Swaney gave the new chief a mandate to purge the Police 
Department of rogue officers.
    Within three months, the chief, a black man of Trinidadian 
descent named Tony J. Scipio, fired or accepted the 
resignations of one-third of the force.
    Soccer is another matter. Mr. Swaney does not relish his 
reputation as the mayor who banned soccer. But he must please 
constituents who complain that refugees are overrunning the 
town's parks and community center--people like Emanuel Ransom, 
a black man who moved to Clarkston in the late 1960s.
    ``A lot of our Clarkston residents are being left out 
totally,'' Mr. Ransom says. ``Nobody wants to help,'' he says 
of the refugees. ``It's just, `Give me, give me, give me.' ''
    Mr. Swaney encourages Ms. Mufleh to make her case at the 
next City Council meeting. So in early October she addresses a 
packed room at City Hall, explaining the team's origins and 
purpose and promising to pick up trash in the park after 
    Mr. Swaney takes the floor. He admits concerns about 
``grown soccer people'' who might tear up the field. But these 
are kids, he says, and ``kids are our future.''
    He announces his support of a six-month trial for the 
Fugees' use of the field in Milam Park.
    The proposal passes unanimously. At least for six months, 
the Fugees can play on grass.

                        GETTING BACK IN THE GAME

    Early on the morning of Oct. 14, Jeremiah Ziaty is nowhere 
to be seen. The Fugees have a 9 a.m. game an hour from 
Clarkston, against the Bluesprings Liberty Fire, one of the top 
teams. Ms. Mufleh had told her players to meet at the library 
by 7.
    Ms. Mufleh usually leaves players behind if they aren't on 
time. But she knows Jeremiah's mother is now working nights at 
a packaging factory; she gets home at 3 a.m. and won't be up to 
wake Jeremiah. So the coach orders the bus driver to the 
Ziatys' apartment. Jeremiah is sound asleep. Awakened, he grabs 
his uniform and fumbles toward the bus.
    From the outset of the game, the Fugees, and especially 
Jeremiah, seem groggy. They fall behind, 1-0. But in the second 
half, they tie the score, fall behind, and tie it again, 2-2. 
Jeremiah is now playing fearsome defense. With minutes to go, 
the Fugees score. They win, 3-2.
    ``We played as a team,'' says Qendrim Bushi, the boy from 
Kosovo. ``We didn't yell at each other. Last game, when they 
scored, all of us were yelling at each other. And Coach made us 
do a lot of stuff at practice. That's why we win. Only because 
of Coach.''
    As the Fugees leave the field, a man on the Bluesprings 
sideline yells to them, ``I'd have paid money to watch that 

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    The Fugees have a knack for inspiring such strong 
reactions, both positive and negative. After one game Ms. 
Mufleh thought for a moment she was being chased by a rival 
    ``We've heard about your team,'' the man said when he 
caught up with her. ``We want to know what we can do to help.''
    The rival team donated cleats, balls and jerseys.
    Then there was the game in rural Clarkesville last season 
at which rival players and even some parents shouted a racial 
epithet at some of the African players on the Fugees.
    After being ejected from a game against the Fugees in 
November, a rival player made an obscene gesture to nearly 
every player on the Fugees before heading to his bench. And 
opponents sometimes mocked the Fugees when they spoke to each 
other in Swahili, or when Ms. Mufleh shouted instructions in 
    There were even incidents involving referees. Two linesmen 
were reprimanded by a head referee during a pregame lineup in 
October for snickering when the name Mohammed Mohammed was 
    Ms. Mufleh tells her players to try their best to ignore 
these slights. When the other side loses its cool, she tells 
them, it is a sign of weakness.
    Ms. Mufleh is just as fatalistic about bad calls. In her 
entire coaching career, she tells her players, she has never 
seen a call reversed because of arguing.
    The Fugees are perhaps better equipped to accept this 
advice than most. Their lives, after all, have been defined by 
bad calls. On the field, they seem to have a higher threshold 
for anger than the American players, who often respond to 
borderline calls as if they are catastrophic injustices. Bad 
calls, Ms. Mufleh teaches her players, are part of the game. 
You have to accept them, and move on.
    On Oct. 21, Ms. Mufleh is forced to put this theory to the 
test. The Fugees are on their way to Athens, an hour's drive, 
for their biggest game, against the undefeated United Gold 
Valiants. A win will put them in contention for the top spot in 
their division. Ms. Mufleh sets out in her yellow Volkswagen 
Beetle, the back seat crammed with balls and cleats. Her team 
follows in a white Y.M.C.A. bus.
    Just outside Monroe, Ms. Mufleh looks to her left and sees 
a Georgia State Patrol car parallel to her. She looks at her 
speedometer. She isn't speeding.
    The brake light, she thinks.
    Ms. Mufleh noticed it early in the week, but between 
practices, work and evenings shuttling among her players' 
apartments, she neglected to get it fixed. The trooper turns on 
his flashing lights. Ms. Mufleh eases to the side and looks at 
her watch. If this doesn't take too long, the team will make 
the field in time to warm up.
    It isn't so simple. Because of a clerical error, a ticket 
Ms. Mufleh paid a year before appears unpaid. Her license is 
suspended. The trooper orders her from her car. In full view of 
her team, he arrests her.
    In the bus, the Fugees become unglued. Santino Jerke, in 
the country only a few months, begins to weep, violating the 
unwritten team rule that Fugees don't cry. Several of the 
Fugees have had family members snatched by uniformed men, just 
like this. They have been in the United States too little time 
to understand court dates or bail.
    Ms. Mufleh tells the team's manager and bus driver, Tracy 
Ediger, to take the team to Athens. They know what to do. They 
can play without her.
    Coachless, though, the Fugees are lost. Athens scores 
within minutes. And scores again. And again. The final score is 
    After the game, Ms. Ediger drives the team back to Monroe. 
She puts together the $800 bail for Ms. Mufleh and signs some 
papers. In a few moments, the coach appears. Later, Ms. Mufleh 
says she thought at that moment about all the times she had 
told the Fugees to shake off bad calls, to get back in the 
game, to take responsibility. She walks straight to the bus and 
her players.
    ``This was my fault, and I had no excuse for not being 
there,'' she tells them. ``I should have been there and I 
wasn't, and the way it happened probably messed you guys up.''
    Ms. Mufleh asks about the score.
    ``It was a really hard team, Coach,'' says Idwar Dikori, 
the Sudanese speedster.
    ``Were they better than you?''
    ``No!'' the Fugees shout in unison.
    ``Come on, guys--were they?''
    ``No, Coach,'' Robin Dikori says. ``If you were there, we 
were going to beat them.''
    Back in Clarkston that night, Ms. Mufleh takes some sweet 
rolls to the family of Grace Balegamire, a Congolese player. 
Grace's 9-year-old brother has heard about the arrest, but 
doesn't believe it.
    ``If you were in jail,'' the boy says, ``you wouldn't be 
    Ms. Mufleh explains that she gave the people at the jail 
some money and promised to come back later, so they let her 
    ``How much money?'' he asks.
    ``Enough for 500 ice creams.''
    ``If you pay 500 ice creams you can come out of jail?'' he 
    Ms. Mufleh grasps the boy's confusion. The boys' father is 
a political prisoner, in jail in Kinshasa, under circumstances 
that have drawn condemnation from Amnesty International and the 
Red Cross. The government there has issued no word on when, or 
if, he will be released.
    At the Ziatys' home, the arrest has a similarly jarring 
effect. Jeremiah locks himself in his room and cries himself to 

                          BATTLING TO THE END

    It's late October, and with just two weeks left in the 
season, a minor miracle occurs in the arrival of two 10-foot-
long cardboard boxes: portable soccer goals for the Fugees. The 
administrator at the Y.M.C.A. finally put in the order. Ms. 
Mufleh and Ms. Ediger assemble the goals in Milam Park.
    The goals and the new field offer Ms. Mufleh new 
opportunities to coach. On grass, players can slide-tackle 
during scrimmages, a danger on the old, gravelly field. A lined 
field makes it easier to practice throw-ins and corner kicks. 
And goals: well, they provide a chance for the Fugees to 
practice shooting.
    A disturbing trend has emerged in recent games. The Fugees 
move the ball down the field at will, but their shots are wild. 
They tie two games despite dominating play.
    Perhaps the Fugees are missing shots for the reason other 
teams miss shots: because scoring in soccer, under the best 
conditions, is deceptively difficult. But Ms. Mufleh also 
wonders if the absence of goals for most of a season doesn't 
have something to do with it.
    Even so, the Fugees end the regular season on a misty 
Saturday with a 2-1 victory, to finish third in their division 
with a record of 5-2-3, behind undefeated Athens and the Dacula 
Danger, a team the Fugees tied. The season finale will be a 
tournament called the Tornado Cup. To a player, the Fugees 
think they can win.
    ``What makes us work as a team is we all want to win bad--
we want to be the best team around,'' Qendrim says. ``It's like 
they're all from my own country,'' he adds of his teammates. 
``They're my brothers.''

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    The Tornado Cup comes down to a game between the Fugees and 
the Concorde Fire, perhaps Atlanta's most elite--and 
expensive--soccer academy. The Fugees need to win to advance to 
the finals.
    Standing on the sideline in a sweatshirt with ``Soccer 
Mom'' on the back, Nancy Daffner, team mother for the Fire, 
describes her son's teammates as ``overachievers.'' One is a 
cellist who has played with the Atlanta Symphony. Her son wakes 
up an hour early every day to do a morning radio broadcast at 
his school.
    The Fire are mostly from the well-to-do Atlanta suburb of 
Alpharetta. They have played together under the same coach for 
five years. They practice twice a week under lights, and have 
sessions for speed and agility training.
    Over the years, the parents have grown close. During 
practice, Ms. Daffner says, she and the other mothers often 
meet for margaritas while the fathers watch their sons play. 
The team has pool parties and players spend weekends at one 
another's lake houses. In the summer, most of the players 
attend soccer camp at Clemson University. Ms. Daffner estimates 
that the cost of playing for the Fire exceeds $5,000 a year per 
player, which includes fees, travel to tournaments and, of 
course, gear. Each player has an Adidas soccer bag embroidered 
with his jersey number.
    There is one other expenditure. The parents of the Fire 
collectively finance the play of Jorge Pinzon, a Colombian 
immigrant and the son of a single working mother. He isn't from 
Alpharetta, but from East Gwinnett County, a largely Latino 
area outside Atlanta. Fire parents go to great lengths to get 
Jorge to games, arranging to meet him at gas stations around 
his home, landmarks they can find in his out-of-the-way 
neighborhood. Jorge is the best player on the team.
    Ms. Mufleh gathers the Fugees before warm-ups.
    ``Play to the whistle,'' she tells them. ``If the ref makes 
a bad call, you keep playing. O.K.? You focus on the game and 
how you're going to win it. Because if you don't, we're going 
to lose your last game of the season, and you're going home 
    Just before the opening whistle, some of the Fugees see a 
strange sight on the sideline. A teacher from the school of 
Josiah Saydee, a Liberian forward, has come to see him play. 
Some older refugee children from the complexes in Clarkston 
have managed rides to the game, an hour from home. Several 
volunteers from resettlement agencies show up. For the first 
time all year, the Fugees have fans.
    The Fugees come out shooting--and missing--frequently. They 
lead, 1-0, at the half. In the second half, it's as if a force 
field protects the Fire's goal. After a half-dozen misses, the 
Fugees score again midway through the second half, to lead by 
    Then, with just minutes to go, Jorge Pinzon of the Fire 
gets free about 25 yards from the Fugees' goal. He squares his 
shoulders and leans into a shot that arcs beautifully over the 
players' heads. Eldin Subasic, the Fugees' Bosnian goalie, 
leaps. The ball brushes his hands and deflects just under the 
bar, tying the game.
    The final whistle blows moments later. The Fugees' season 
is over.
    ``You had them,'' Ms. Mufleh tells her team after the game. 
``You had them at 2 to 1, and you wouldn't finish it.''
    The Fugees are crushed.
    ``We lost, I mean, we tied our game,'' says Mafoday Jawneh, 
the sensitive newcomer to the team. ``It was so. . . . '' His 
voice trails off. ``I don't know what it was.''

                       AN UNPLEASANT HOLIDAY GIFT

    The holidays are a festive time in Clarkston. Santa Claus 
arrives by helicopter at City Hall. The mayor is there to greet 
him, as are some of the Fugees.
    They have other concerns besides Christmas. The Fugees have 
held two carwashes in town, to raise $1,000 to go to a 
tournament in Savannah in late January. They have come up $130 
short, and Ms. Mufleh tells them that unless they raise the 
money, they are not going. When one player suggests asking 
their parents, Ms. Mufleh says that any player who asks a 
parent for tournament money will be kicked off the team.
    She tells them, ``You need to ask yourselves what you need 
to do for your team.''

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    ``You need to ask yourself what you need to do for your 
team,'' Jeremiah Ziaty says.
    He is at home in his kitchen, talking with Prince Tarlue, a 
teammate from Liberia, making a case for a team project. Some 
of the boys are to meet at Eldin Subasic's apartment. They can 
knock on doors in town and offer to rake leaves to raise the 
money to get to Savannah. No need telling Coach, unless they 
raise enough cash. Prince says he is in. Grace is in, too. Some 
older boys in the refugee community offer to help out as well. 
Late on a Sunday morning, they set out.
    That afternoon, Ms. Mufleh's cellphone rings. It's Eldin, 
who asks if she will pick up Grace and take him home. They have 
been raking leaves all day, he says, and Grace does not want to 
walk home in the dark. Oh, Eldin adds, he wants to give her the 
    ``What money?'' she asks.
    ``You said we needed $130,'' he tells her. ``So we got 

           *       *       *       *       *       *       *

    Ms. Mufleh and Ms. Ediger, the team manager, spend the 
holiday vacation visiting the players' families. On Dec. 26, 
Ms. Mufleh receives a fax on Town of Clarkston letterhead.
    Effectively immediately, the fax informs her, the Fugees 
soccer team is no longer welcome to play at Milam Park. The 
city is handing the field to a youth sports coordinator who 
plans to run a youth baseball and football program.
    Questioned by this reporter, Mayor Swaney says he has 
forgotten that in October the City Council gave the Fugees six 
months. A few days later, he tells Ms. Mufleh the team can stay 
through March.
    In early January, Ms. Mufleh logs on to Google Earth, and 
scans satellite images of Clarkston. There are green patches on 
the campuses of Georgia Perimeter College, and at the Atlanta 
Area School for the Deaf, around the corner from City Hall. She 
hopes to find the Fugees a permanent home.

                      CORRECTION: FEBRUARY 1, 2007

    A front-page article on Jan. 21 about a soccer program for 
refugee boys in Clarkston, Ga., rendered incorrectly a 
quotation from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in which Mayor 
Lee Swaney of Clarkston commented on the use of a town park. He 
said, ``There will be nothing but baseball down there as long 
as I am mayor.'' He did not say ``baseball and football.''

                      EDITORS' NOTE: MARCH 4, 2007

    A front-page article on Jan. 21 reported on a soccer 
program for refugee boys in Clarkston, Ga., and how it has come 
to symbolize the passions that run high in the area over the 
issue of immigration. The article included a statement that 
Clarkston's mayor, Lee Swaney, had forced the resignation of 
the town's longtime police chief, in part because of complaints 
from refugees that police officers were harassing them.
    The former police chief, Charles Nelson--who was not 
identified by name in the article--called The Times on Feb. 5 
to say that he had resigned voluntarily. Mayor Swaney says that 
Mr. Nelson left on his own accord.
    The Times tried several times to contact Mr. Nelson for 
comment before publication. The article should have said that 
he could not be reached, and it should have attributed the 
information about the circumstances of his resignation to those 
who provided it.

                              APPENDIX VI


   Legislation Introduced in the Georgia General Assembly, April 2003

                            HOUSE BILL 1002

 By: Representatives Drenner of the 57th, Mobley of the 58th, Marin of 
               the 66th, and Benfield of the 56th, Post 1

                         A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT To amend Chapter 60 of Title 36 of the Official Code of Georgia 
 Annotated, relating to general provisions applicable to counties and 
 municipalities, so as to provide that voluntary agencies that assist 
  with the resettlement of refugees must make certain reports to the 
county and municipality in which such agencies are located; to provide 
   a definition; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Georgia:

    Section 1. Chapter 60 of Title 36 of the Official Code of 
Georgia Annotated, relating to general provisions applicable to 
counties and municipalities, is amended by adding a new Code 
Section 36_60_24 to read as follows:

    ``Any voluntary agency that is involved in the resettlement 
of refugees in this state shall report to the governing 
authority of the county and, if located within a municipality, 
to the governing authority of the municipality in which such 
agency is located each time that such agency resettles or 
assists in the resettlement of ten or more refugees at one time 
in such county or municipality within ten days of such refugees 
arrival in the county. For the purposes of this Code section, 
`voluntary agency' shall mean an agency located in this state 
that contracts with the United States Department of State or a 
National Voluntary Resettlement Agency to provide reception and 
placement services to refugees who reside in this state.''
    Section 2. All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this 
Act are repealed.

                              APPENDIX VII



FY--Fiscal Year
PRM--Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
ESL-- English as Second Language
USRAP--U.S. Refugee Admissions Program
GAO--Government Accountability Office
ORR--Office of Refugee Resettlement
MARTA--Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority