Mayor Jacobs says Knox County to remain in refugee program

Gov. Bill Lee, right, and Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs meet at the state Capitol in Nashville on Feb. 4, 2019. (Photo: Gov. Bill Lee’s office)

Glenn Jacobs, the libertarian Knox County mayor best known for his role as WWE star Kane, is joining Republican Gov. Bill Lee in giving consent to the remain open to the federal refugee resettlement program.

“I have found, overwhelmingly, the people in this program come here to be contributors to society, to breathe the air of the greatest nation on the planet as free men and women,” Jacobs said in a statement.

Jacobs said 99 refugees were resettled in Knox County in 2018.

Here’s the full release from Jacobs’ office:

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.—Today Governor Bill Lee announced his consent to initial refugee resettlement in Tennessee in response to Executive Order 13888 issued by President Donald J. Trump in September. This Executive Order requires consent from both local and state governments to allow refugee resettlement.

Gov. Lee said, “The United States and Tennessee have always been, since the very founding of our nation, a shining beacon of freedom and opportunity for the persecuted and oppressed, particularly those suffering religious persecution.” He also expressed his consent to working with President Trump and his administration to responsibly resettle refugees.

A refugee is a person who has fled their country of origin specifically because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based upon race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. A refugee does not include a person who has left their home country solely to seek a more prosperous life here.

Knox County has been welcoming refugees through Bridge Refugee Services since 1982. Ninety-nine refugees were resettled in Knox County in fiscal year 2018.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs said, “I have found, overwhelmingly, the people in this program come here to be contributors to society, to breathe the air of the greatest nation on the planet as free men and women. Some of them have already been in service to our nation by working with our military in places like Iraq and Syria.”

Yassin Terou relocated to Knoxville from Syria in 2011 but spoke no English and could find no work. He began selling homemade falafel sandwiches and juices at the local mosque. He would sell out every week, making no money, but happy to be working. With the help of Nadeem Saddiqi, an imam at the mosque and a Knoxville native, he found a restaurant space downtown and Yassin’s Falafel House was born. Yassin’s gained national recognition being named Reader’s Digest’s Nicest Place in America in October 2018.

“We could all learn something from Yassin’s motto: welcome all sizes, all colors, all ages, all sexes, all cultures, all religions, all types, all beliefs, all people. Yassin is a perfect example of how communities like ours can benefit from supporting refugee resettlement and serving as a beacon for the American dream. I strongly agree with Governor Lee’s decision and thank him for his leadership on this issue,” Jacobs continued.

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