What Will A Raised Refugee Cap Mean for New Hampshire?
That’s the number of new refugees that came to New Hampshire between October 2019 and September 2020.
For context, Richard Minard, executive director of Building Community New Hampshire, an organization that supports refugees, says that’s really low.
The pandemic, he says, has exacerbated a trend that New Hampshire, and the U.S. was already seeing, of declining numbers of new refugees, following cuts to refugee admissions.
In fiscal year 2019, 248 refugees came to New Hampshire. Back in 2016, before the Trump administration cut quotas, 518 refugees came to the state.
President Biden is raising the refugee ceiling from 15,000 to 62,500 people this fiscal year. In March, only around 2,000 refugees had come to the country, and Biden says the new target is unlikely to be met.
The policy decision comes after the Biden administration faced a wave criticism when they said they would leave the current number in place. President Biden says that in the coming fiscal year, which begins in October he plans to set the cap at 125,000.
Clement Kigugu is the executive director of Overcomers Refugee Services in Concord. The raised cap, he says, was very welcome news, and for some current refugees in the state, it may have a big personal impact.
“So many refugees,” he says “Have relatives overseas, now it's an opportunity to come here.”
One of the main goals of both Overcomers and Building Community, is to help find employment for refugees. And that’s something neither Kigugu or Minard is worried about.
“I have been getting phone calls, from companies, looking for people,” Kigugu explains “And we don’t have enough people.”
Kigugu says the calls make it clear that having more refugees in the state also makes economic sense. Minard says he’s been fielding similar calls from employers.
“There's such a demand for work workers in New Hampshire today that we're able to provide a real opportunity. And then in turn, the people who do come to New Hampshire help the state grow and flourish.”
During the pandemic, both organizations helped refugees who had lost work file for unemployment insurance and find new jobs as the economy reopened.