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Protestors decry Pappas' support for 'cruel policy' blocking asylum seekers

A group of protestors holding handwritten signs march down a sidewalk in Dover. One sign reads: "Hassan & Pappas: STOP blocking asylum!" Another reads: "Hassan & Pappas: Asylum is a human right." Another reads: "End Title 42 - Keep Communities Together!"
Gaby Lozada
/
NHPR
Accompanied by a band, the group of advocates and community members chanted pro-immigrant songs as they marched toward Congressman Chris Pappas' field office in Dover.

About 30 New Hampshire residents advocating for immigrant rights led a half-mile march to Rep. Chris Pappas's Dover office Thursday, demanding a meeting to discuss his support for Title 42.

Title 42 is a Trump-era public health order adopted during the COVID pandemic that allows U.S. Customs and Border Protection to expel thousands of migrants at the southern border without allowing them to seek asylum.

This measure is expected to be lifted on May 23, but Pappas and Sen. Maggie Hassan are among a handful of Congressional Democrats who want to preserve Title 42. They are supporting separate pieces of legislation to keep the restrictions in place for 60 days after the surgeon general formally rescinds the COVID-19 public health emergency.

At a Workers Day rally in Manchester earlier this month, advocates said they told the two elected officials that their decisions would harm them in the midterms this November. But the advocates said they did not receive a response.

Activist Linds Jakows, who works for the Granite State Interfaith Action Fund, said they're angry about Pappas' decision. They have rallied across the state multiple times, demanding an opportunity to meet in person.

“He doesn't get it," Jakows said. "And it feels like he is trading away political points instead of caring about people who are struggling."

Another protester, Jim Giddin, traveled an hour with his wife to attend the march in Dover. He, too, said he was disappointed in Pappas. He said the United States “shouldn't be blocking asylum for any reason" and "making any excuse to deny it is wrong."

“Why are our representatives, who are supposed to be Democrats, favoring this policy, which is not the policies any humane party will be favoring?” Giddin said.

Some protesters said they saw no reason to keep Title 42 in place at this point in the pandemic, given the availability of vaccines and lower case numbers.

Betsy Kelly carried a sign reading: “Hassan and Pappas end Title 42, Trump’s cruel policy.” She said Pappas betrayed her, because his recent statements didn't align with values he's promoted in the past.

“I have a letter from him, and his statements are very pro-immigration," Kelly said. "But by supporting Title 42, he talks the talk, but he is not walking the walk."

Advocates delivered letters to Pappas and said they were waiting for a chance to meet with his office.

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