Manchester still seeking relief in integrating new arrivals
MANCHESTER - While many immigrants enter the U.S. with dreams for a brighter future, city officials say it's their aim to help with services needed by new arrivals to achieve their goals.
"I think at last check we had something like 82 languages represented at Central High School," said Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas. "I asked a few years ago for a waiver from the federal government to exempt immigrant and refugee children from testing. I'm still waiting on that one."
The U.S. has accepted refugees since the early 1980s. New Hampshire welcomes between 250 and 550 legal immigrants each year. Most take up residence in communities along Interstate 93 from Nashua on up to Concord, with some showing up in Laconia.
Gatsas has had a frosty relationship with the International Institute of New England, headquartered in Boston, which has settled several thousand refugees in Manchester, more than it has in any other community in the state.
Cities and towns cannot block refugee resettlement, just as they are prohibited from restricting people of any race or ethnicity from moving into town.
Gatsas has charged in the past that the institute has been incommunicative and unresponsive to his concerns, disregarding the struggles they are facing in the city.
According to Gatsas, the city has received between 60 and 70 refugees since October.
"We want to give them every opportunity to succeed here," said Gatsas. "We try to provide services to help with that goal, and we ask the feds for something like a waiver for students from testing, and we're still waiting. I guess they turn a deaf ear to something like that."