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Hundreds of NH refugees fit ban profile

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 30. 2017 10:43PM
Immigration lawyers greet passengers arriving on international flights to help them with problems caused by President Donald Trump's executive order travel ban at Logan Airport in Boston on Monday. (REUTERS/Brian Snyder)

MANCHESTER — More than 700 refugees who settled in New Hampshire over the past decade would have been banned under the Trump administration’s current executive order blocking refugees from seven countries with Muslim-majority populations.

There were 731 refugees from the affected countries: 519 from Iraq, 124 from Somalia, 71 from Sudan and 17 from Syria, according to Department of Health and Human Services figures for an eight-year period through last June.

“I don’t think it’s fair to the families that are here that still have family in the pipeline that are awaiting to get reunited and again this is a humanitarian work that we do,” said Amadou Hamady, Manchester site director for the International Institute of New England, which helps resettle refugees in New Hampshire.

Some Iraqi refugees living in the Manchester area are waiting for wives and children living in overseas refugee camps to be processed, he said.

One Manchester couple from Iraq expected the husband’s mother to travel from Iraq to visit, but she has canceled for now. The woman has a green card, which allows people to live and work in the United States. Some people with green cards from the affected nations had their trips interrupted last weekend after President Trump’s executive order went into effect. A later government clarification said people with green cards would be allowed to proceed.

“They’re just worried and concerned,” Hamaday said. “Everything came by surprise.”

The Trump administration said the 120-day moratorium on refugees entering the country is to ensure they are vetted properly to make the country safer from terrorism. The other countries cited are Iran, Libya and Yemen.

There is a 90-day moratorium on visitors from those countries.

Several New Hampshire employers expressed concern about Trump’s executive order.

“This ban is wrong and goes against our values as a company and as Americans,” said TJ Parker, CEO of PillPack, which employs 400 people in Manchester. “I’m also deeply concerned about any measures that could discourage talented individuals from studying and working in the U.S. I will continue to voice these concerns and do everything I can to support the rights of all our employees and customers.”

In a message to the Dartmouth College community, President Phil Hanlon and Provost Carolyn Dever recommended foreign nationals from the seven countries to “avoid all international travel, including to Canada, for the time being.”

Dartmouth is home to more than 900 international students and more than 200 international faculty, scholars, and staff.

“These events have understandably generated great anxiety and confusion across our campus and are very troubling,” the Dartmouth statement said.

James Weinstein, CEO and president of Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Lebanon, on Monday sent a message to staff.

“As an academic medical center that draws scientists, staff, trainees and patients from around the globe, Dartmouth-Hitchcock will undoubtedly feel the impact of these actions in the days and weeks to come,” he said. “We are steadfastly committed to supporting those members of the D-H family who are directly affected by these new restrictions or who have family and friends who are feeling the impact of the ban.”

Erika Mantz, director of media relations at the University of New Hampshire, said the university is monitoring the situation.

“As a flagship research university with global reach, we are committed to supporting the students, staff and faculty members who may be affected by this uncertainty and by new restrictions on immigration,” Mantz said. “Our focus now is on providing the resources these members of our community need as we assess the situation.”

Dyn, a global technology company based in Manchester’s Millyard, declined comment.

Manchester immigration attorney Enrique Mesa Jr., said he has been getting calls from people holding green cards who aren’t from one of the seven countries.

“There’s just a lot of people right now that are panicked,” he said. “They are rethinking or canceling their vacation plans to visit their families because of the fact they don’t know if they can come back into the United States and they have every right to be afraid.”

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