MANCHESTER — The mayor of the state’s largest city says she supports refugee resettlement in Manchester, while awaiting additional information on whether doing so will require approval by Queen City aldermen, under a new policy from President Donald Trump.
Under an executive order issued by Trump in September, both states and local communities must approve refugee resettlements. Without explicit written consent from both the state’s governor and the city or town, refugees cannot resettle in those cities. The new order was opposed by refugee rights groups.
Gov. Chris Sununu issued a notice of consent last week in response to Presidential Executive Order 13888, “On Enhancing State and Local Involvement in Resettlement,” for an initial refugee resettlement in New Hampshire under the terms of Executive Order 13888.
“With this action, it is now up to each city’s mayor whether they want to opt in to accepting refugees,” Sununu said in a statement. “We will work closely with area agencies to ensure those who are resettled in New Hampshire have the opportunity to become hardworking members of our local communities.”
Executive Order 13888 states that refugees may only be resettled in “jurisdictions in which both the state and local governments have consented to receive refugees under the Department of State’s Reception and Placement Program (Program).”
Now that Sununu has consented to receiving refugees at the state level, local municipalities have until Dec. 20 to opt in.
In an email, a spokesman for Mayor Craig’s office said they are awaiting “further clarification on the process.”
“The refugee resettlement program has had a long history in Manchester, thanks to widespread community support,” Craig said in a statement. “I support continuing refugee resettlement in the Queen City. It is important to remember we all come from different backgrounds and bring our own experiences, but we are all united by a love of our community. Our different cultures, religions and life experiences are what inspires creativity, drives innovation and makes our city great.”
The number of refugees being resettled in New Hampshire has dropped in recent years under the Trump administration.
There were 162 refugees resettled in the state in fiscal year 2018, according to an annual report put out by the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). That is down from 518 two years prior.
In 2018 a majority of the refugees resettled in New Hampshire — 103 — came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to DHHS. Between fiscal years 2011 and 2018, the majority of refugees — 1,205 in all — came to New Hampshire from Bhutan.
Between July 2010 and July 2018, Manchester welcomed 1,242 refugees. Concord welcomed 1,292 refugees, with Nashua taking in 622, Laconia 15, Keene three, and Franklin, Exeter and Dover one each.
Since taking office, President Trump has lowered the number of refugees allowed into the United States, setting a limit of 30,000 for fiscal year 2019, a new low in the program’s 43-year history.
Records show the U.S. admitted nearly 85,000 refugees in 2016.
The International Institute of New England (IINE) issued a statement opposing the Trump administration’s refugee cap.
“It is our daily privilege to support 2,500 refugees and immigrants each year in Massachusetts and New Hampshire,’ the statement reads. “In FY20, IINE will offer critical services to the 7,000 refugees we resettled over the past decade and the many more immigrants we encounter every day.
“We stand ready to receive newly arrived refugees as well. We oppose the White House’s plan to drastically lower refugee admissions because it condemns so many to endless suffering, and it is morally wrong for the wealthiest country in the world to turn away from the world’s most destitute.”