New Hampshire Responds to Trump's Executive Order on Immigration and Refugees

Jan 30, 2017

(This post will be updated as new information and reactions from New Hampshire officials are made available.)

The order signed Friday temporarily bans travel from seven Muslim-majority nations for 120 days, and suspends all refugees from entering the country for 90 days. Refugees from Syria were suspended indefinitely.

Trump’s order went into effect immediately, causing confusion at airports, with many people in transit from those countries being detained. 

Reaction from the Queen City

Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas criticized the way the Trump administration handled the implementation of the executive order, saying it led to "chaos and confusion."

The mayor of the state's largest city says he supports controlling America's borders and strengthening the vetting process for those wishing to come here.

"It is imperative for the safety of our country and our community, but it must be implemented fairly and with clarity of process and rules," Gatsas wrote Monday. "I am concerned with the haste in which this order was implemented and the resulting chaos and confusion. Individuals who are here legally should be able to travel to and from the United States legally no matter where they are from."

Gatsas, a Republican who ran for governor last year, referenced Manchester's "vibrant refugee community" in his statement, saying the city has worked diligently to welcome refugees to the city and help them assimilate.

"America is a melting pot and we are a welcoming and respectful nation. Manchester is no different. As a country and community, we should never discriminate based on religion and race. Here in the city discrimination will never be tolerated."

Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard weighed in on Twitter, taking issue with state Attorney General Joe Foster's pushback on Trump's order.

Willard, who is reportedly in line for a federal law enforcement job in the Trump administration, wrote on Twitter: "AG should be A-political & focus on protecting NH citizens, not criticizing the President. Law Enforcement Deserves Better." 

Sununu 'Closely Monitoring' Local Impact

In a statement released Monday morning, Gov. Chris Sununu stopped short of taking an official stance for or against Trump's executive order. Instead, Sununu both nodded to his family's own immigrant past while also expressing support for a strengthened "vetting process" for those traveling to the United States.

“The enforcement of our nation’s immigration policy is a function of the federal government. Our country was founded on immigration and it is both the fabric of my family and families around the United States. We live in a very dangerous world and I will continue to support the strengthening of the vetting process, as it contributes directly to the safety and security of the people of New Hampshire. I am closely monitoring the President’s executive order and our office is staying in communication with the White House and federal and state agencies to assess the impact of the order on New Hampshire."

Sununu's office did not respond to questions about the local impact of the ban on that were posed by NHPR on Sunday, such as what this might mean for refugees who are already living in the state.

Breaking With Governor, Foster Joins Other Attorneys General in Opposition

New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Foster says he plans to join other attorneys general from across the country in opposing President Trump's executive order halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

"The safety and security of our citizens is the most important function of our government, both State and Federal," Foster said in a memo released by his office Monday morning. "That function, however, must always be implemented in a manner that respects our State and Federal constitutional rights. President Trump's Executive Order restricting certain immigrants violates those rights and violates principles that are fundamental to our democracy."

Foster also said he supports federal court decisions ordering a stay on the executive order and said he "will join with other State Attorneys General around the nation who share a similar commitment to defend our constitutional rights."

New Hampshire was not initially among a group of 16 states whose attorneys general condemned Trump's action on Sunday. In a joint statement, the attorneys general — including those in Vermont, Maine and Massachusetts — pledged to fight the order. 

"Religious liberty has been, and always will be, a bedrock principle of our country and no president can change that truth," they wrote.

A spokeswoman for Foster confirmed that the statement was issued independently by the attorney general and was not meant to be a reflection of Gov. Chris Sununu's position on the issue.  At the time Foster issued his statement, the governor's office had yet to make any public comments on the president's executive order.

New Hampshire Attorney General Joe Foster was a Democratic state senator and was appointed by Hassan when she was governor. Sununu is expected to announce a replacement for Foster after his term expires at the end of March.

N.H. Senate Dems Criticize Sununu for Delayed Response

New Hampshire Senate Democrats also spoke out against Trump's order on Monday. In a joint statement released by the caucus Monday morning, Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn called on Sununu and other officials to "refuse to implement directives from the federal government that target Granite Staters, our schoolchildren, or their families based on religion or national origin, and to take legal action, if necessary, to protect all of our people."

“As of now, not one prominent New Hampshire Republican, including Governor Chris Sununu, has expressed any concern whatsoever over the President’s unprecedented, un-American and unconstitutional executive order," Woodburn's statement reads. "They should learn from Sen. John McCain, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, Vermont Governor Phil Scott, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, and many other Republicans, who are able to put our people before their party.”

N.H. Senators, Congresswomen Speak Out

Both of New Hampshire’s Democratic U.S. Senators condemned Trump’s actions in statements released by their offices.

“This executive order is un-American and grossly inhumane,” Shaheen said in a statement. “We are a nation of immigrants and should remain welcoming to all nations and faiths, particularly those who are fleeing violence and oppression.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan expressed similar concern in a statement, calling Trump’s action “anti-American,” calling it a “religious test on entry into the United States.”

In 2015, Hassan broke with many others in her party by expressing support for "a pause" on Syrian refugee resettlement, citing national security concerns. On Monday, Hassan drew a distinction between that position and Trump's actions — telling the Associated Press she's "never supported" an indefinite ban on refugees from Syria.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter also issued a statement Sunday urging the president to rescind the order.

"I call on President Trump to immediately reverse his actions," Shea-Porter said, "and I invite all Granite Staters to join me in letting our refugee and immigrant neighbors know that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them as one community."

Congresswoman Annie Kuster, in posts on Twitter and Facebook, called on Trump to "honor the values of inclusion that make us truly great."


Dartmouth Issues Travel Advisory, UNH Pledges Support for Affected Students

In a letter to the Dartmouth College community Sunday, President Phil Hanlon wrote the college is advising students and faculty from countries affected by the ban avoid all international travel, including to Canada, for the time being.

“We are working closely with students and faculty who have been affected by this action,” Hanlon wrote.

Hanlon says the college supports the Association of American Universities in its call for Trump to repeal the executive order.

“These events have understandably generated great anxiety and confusion across our campus, and are very troubling,” Hanlon wrote. “The college will continue to monitor the evolving situation, and provide information and support to the members of our community who may be affected.”  

University of New Hampshire officials say they are monitoring the situation and complying with all federal law.

"The only thing we know for certain at this time is that details around immigration will continue to evolve," President Mark Huddleston wrote in an open letter to the campus community. "We anticipate that further clarity will be provided in the coming days and weeks from the Trump Administration, federal court rulings, and Congress. As the matter unfolds, the Office of International Students and Scholars is already reaching out to those who are directly affected by this uncertain situation to help answer specific questions."

Hanlon said the school is "committed" to supporting students and others who might be affected by the order. He also reiterated his support for the extension of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, immigration reform policies.

Some Communities Rally Against Ban

Reaction to the order resonated across the Granite State through the weekend.

Demonstrators gathered in downtown Peterborough Sunday as part of nationwide protests against President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration.

“No ban! No wall! America is for us all!” the crowd of nearly 200 chanted outside the Town House.

The Keene Sentinel reports more than 100 people gathered in that city's Central Square Sunday afternoon to voice opposition to the order. Protestors also gathered in Portsmouth's Market Square, according to WMUR.