Here's How Manus Refugees Are Coping In The USA

Not all of the men are coping well with their new lives.

"Sometimes I'm crying. I don't know anyone here," Hidayat tells ten daily from Philadelphia, where he's trying to build a new life.

Hidayat came from Pakistan and through Australia's detention centre on Manus Island before being resettled in the U.S., one of the more than 250 refugees sent from Manus and Nauru as part of a deal between both nation's governments.

Hidayat's been unable to find work and he's worried about what happens next month, when support from the refugee agency runs out.

Asylum-seekers at the Manus Island detention centre in 2014. AAP/Eoin Blackwell/via REUTERS

He's lonely, and he's sad.

Little is known about how refugees such as Hidayat are coping with freedom after several years in squalid and dangerous conditions.

Even refugee advocates and agencies in Australia who worked closely with asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru  have scant information on where they have been taken, or how they are. U.S. refugee agencies that ten daily also contacted were no help either.

But we found Hidayat, and an hour down the road we found Shafiq.

"America is a country which got me from hell."

Like Hidayat, Shafiq came from Pakistan after spending several years on Manus.

He's in New Jersey now and, he said, having a great time in America.

New people, a "nice" neighbourhood, work at a food retailer and he hopes to get another job as an Uber driver.

Shafiq said he had been assisted by a group called International Rescue Committee.

"They help me a lot. I have a job and still IRC support me," he told ten daily

"I am thankful of America. America is a country which got me from hell. I have a lot of love for America in my heart."

Trump has opposed the resettlement deal, saying he "hates" taking the refugees. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Shafiq said he spent his time working and studying, practising his English language skills.

"I have plans to do Uber driving, hopefully soon. I'm happy. I have a lot of friends. It's a nice life here. I [work hard] to make a future," he said.

"I'm very busy. I work and in my free time I study and sometimes driving practise. I feel good."

"the lawyers want money I don't have"

Hidayat, on the other hand, said he felt somewhat abandoned in Philadelphia.

He doesn't know the name of the refugee agency assisting him, and was struggling to adjust to his new life.

"I'm very worried. They help me, but not too much. They gave me $200 for four months, and a house, then nothing... for four months they give me everything, then after four months they give me nothing," he told ten daily.

"Now I'm looking for jobs. I'm very worried about it."

Turnbull pleaded with Trump to maintain the deal, but also said the arrangement "does not require you to take any... the obligation is to only go through the process" (AAP Image/Lisa Alexander)

He's been in Philadelphia since mid-February. He said he has had a hard time fitting in, and hits the gym daily.

He also misses his family, who he wants to see again.

"But the lawyers want money I don't have," he said.

"My wife and my children, my three sons. For six years I haven't seen them."

Shafiq also said he wanted to bring his family from Pakistan, but was not optimistic about the chances.

It is unclear how many more refugees from Manus or Nauru will make it to America.

Men at the former Manus Island detention in PNG, from 2014. (AAP Image/Eoin Blackwell)
"You can decide to take 1000 or 100. It is entirely up to you."

In 2016, a deal was struck in the dying days of the Obama presidency to resettle up to 1250 refugees in the United States.

But as of last week, 267 refugees had been moved from Manus and Nauru to the USA, according to Australia's Home Affairs Department.

More are still going through the "extreme vetting" screening process, and hope to one day be accepted for a new life in America.

The deal is for up to 1250, but that is an absolute maximum number.

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull pointed out to Donald Trump in their infamous phone call "[the deal] does not require you to take any... the obligation is to only go through the process."

"The obligation is for the United States to look and examine and take up to and only if they so choose," Turnbull told Trump.

"You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1000 or 100. It is entirely up to you."

Hidayat parted with ten daily after sharing this thought for Australia:

"I just want to say to all the Australian people who supported me, I love Australian people," he said.