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Local organizations seek to stop President Biden’s proposed asylum restrictions

Ascentria Care Alliance

Two local organizations are advocating against President Biden’s new proposal that would leave thousands of immigrants without the possibility of seeking asylum in the U.S.

Last month, the Biden administration proposedstricter restrictions for people applying for asylum. Under this measure, if an immigrant passes through a third country before arriving in the U.S. and they haven’t asked for protection there, they could be denied humanitarian status when they reach American soil.

Asylum seekers will also have to make an appointment with Customs and Border Enforcement through an app, a step that New Hampshire advocates say can overwhelm people already pressed to escape their countries.

Safiya Wazir, case manager at Ascentria Care Alliance, an organization that provides resources to new arrivals in New Hampshire, is advocating against the proposal. She was once an asylum seeker herself, escaping from Afghanistan, and says that, in her experience, this could affect those fleeing violence and will force families to separate.

“We have so many people who need our help at the border in seeking safe haven, a safe place to call home,” she said.

The International Institute of New England, an organization that helps more than 5,000 immigrants with education, career advancement, and pathways to citizenship, is filing public comment against the Biden Administration’s proposal, along with Ascentria Care Alliance.

Both organizations are asking the government to stop this measure, but they are also calling Granite Staters to join their pledge and calling and writing to the state’s congressional delegation.

“We believe that all those allies, including employers, will be helpful as we educate the community,” said Famoh Toure, program manager at Ascentria Care Alliance.

Jeffrey Thielman, President and CEO of the International Institute of New England, said that New Hampshire benefits from the presence of immigrants who arrive through this humanitarian process – filling jobs in the manufacturing, construction, and health industries.

“When you talk to folks in the leadership of various industries, they ask how to get a better immigration system so they can get more workers,” he said. “We don't have enough, and they have an opportunity to address our workforce shortage.”

Thielman says there are families in New Hampshire whose loved ones are trying to come to the U.S. and are worried they will never do it.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.
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