Refugees | New Hampshire Public Radio

Refugees

Victoria Valente of Derry

As part of NHPR's series on trauma in the time of COVID-19, "Lifelines," The Exchange focuses on New Hampshire's refugees. Refugees who resettle to New Hampshire may experience trauma before, during, and after resettlement, and as they build new lives in the Granite State, we look at how the pandemic fits into this process of establishing stability, wellbeing, and community in a new place. 

Click here to find more of "Lifelines: Addressing Trauma in the Time of COVID-19."

Air date: Thursday, May 7, 2020

Peter Biello/NHPR

In the basement of St. Anne - St. Augustin church in Manchester, class is in session. About two dozen people - mostly immigrants to New Hampshire - gather around tables to learn English as a second language.

Twenty-eight year old Mariam Soulama came to the United States from Burkina Faso about five years ago speaking French, and not knowing much about life in the U.S.

“I learn everything here,” she says. “Father also help us to learn and have everything here to write, to read. Yeah, I like that.”

Casey McDermott / NHPR

At first, the scene at the Manchester field office for the Bernie Sanders campaign looked pretty typical: Volunteers milled around after a presentation from campaign higher-ups, fielding invitations to sign up for canvassing shifts from campaign staffers armed with clipboards.

But in one corner of the room, a smaller group huddled together, listening intently to field organizer Susmik Lama, who was delivering a parallel set of instructions for the final weeks of the campaign — in Nepali.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Manchester's Board of Aldermen has given approval for the federal government to support refugee resettlement in the city.

President Trump issued an order earlier this fall requiring states and local municipalities to opt in by before federal funds go to support refugee resettlement agencies there. Governor Chris Sununu gave state-level consent last month. Municipalities have until December 20th to opt in.

The board of alderman in Manchester voted on Tuesday to do just that.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

Two groups in Manchester are launching a project to expand housing for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

The initiative comes as the city struggles with an increase in homelessness, lack of affordable housing, and a spike in domestic violence and homicides by intimate partners.

Sara Plourde

The number of refugees being resettled in New Hampshire has dropped dramatically under the Trump administration.

There were 162 refugees resettled in the state in Fiscal Year 2018, according to an annual report from the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services. That's down from 518 two years prior. 

Exploring N.H.'s Refugee Program In Manchester

Jun 2, 2019

The number of refugees being resettled in New Hampshire has dropped significantly under the Trump administration. There were 162 refugees resettled in the Granite State in FY 2018; that's compared to 518 two years prior. We'll explore what that means, and also talk with former refugees living in New Hampshire's largest city about their experiences. We'll also look at the city's school system, and how it works with refugee families arriving in the city.

GUESTS:

Police in Manchester, Pelham, Nashua, and Concord are joining forces on Saturday to host a "Youth Forum for New Americans."

The event is the first time the police have organized this kind of event for young people, specifically targetting immigrants and refugees.

John Marasco is an Administrative Major with the New Hampshire State Police. He says the afternoon is meant to build relationships between the police and new Americans, particularly those who have had bad experiences with law enforcement in the past.

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

The Temple Israel synagogue in Manchester gathered people on Sunday for a discussion on how the U.S. treats refugees and immigrants. The event had been planned for over a year, but it took on new meaning in light of the massacre last weekend at a Pittsburgh synagogue.


Sarah Gibson for NHPR

A synagogue in Manchester is hosting an event this Sunday to discuss how the U.S. treats refugees.

The gathering, titled "Understanding the History of and Morality of U.S. Refugee Policy," will be held at Temple Israel and will feature an expert on refugee policy, a civil rights lawyer, and a Congolese immigrant who now lives in Manchester.  

Sarah Gibson for NHPR

 

A live storytelling event featuring New Hampshire refugees is coming to Manchester’s Palace Theater this Sunday.

The event, called “Suitcase Stories,” is organized by the International Institute of New England, which resettles refugees in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

Seven people from Manchester - mostly resettled refugees - will get on stage and tell their stories.

New Hampshire agencies that settle refugees say they're concerned about the lower number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. in 2019.

For fiscal year 2018, the cap was set at 45,000 refugees. For next fiscal year, that’s dropped to 30,000 refugees.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld President Trump's travel ban affecting Muslim-majority countries, including Syria, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Somalia.

 

The International Institute of New England, one of two agencies that resettles refugees in New Hampshire, says it's "profoundly disappointed" by the ruling.

 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

 

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has introduced a bill that would authorize 4,000 additional visas for Afghans who have supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

The bill would further extend the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa Program for the next fiscal year, helping Afghan interpreters and support staffers who face threats as a result of their service to apply for refuge in the United States. It also would strengthen the program's vetting process.

Courtesy the Okeny family

  Ageth Okeny fled war in Sudan with her four children. In Egypt, she says she applied for refugee resettlement.

 

“They asked me in interview: ‘You have specific place to go?’ I said no, I just want to leave with my kid[s], I need the safety place to be safe with my children,” Okeny says.

 

“So they brought me here to Manchester,” she says.

 

 


This week the Trump Administration announced it would reopen the door to refugees from 11 so-called “high-risk” countries it had previously banned. But the Department of Homeland Security is also calling for increased security measures which it says will bolster public safety.

The Trump administration is ending temporary protected status for some 60,000 Haitians living in the U.S. after an earthquake devastated their country in 2010.

This affects between 80 and 150 Haitians in New Hampshire, according to Samson DuClair, president of the Haitian Community Center of N.H. He says these people are worried about being sent back, and many don’t have a home to return to.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor Chris Sununu is asking the President not to deport a group of Indonesians who’ve been living in Dover since the late 1990s.

The deportations are currently on hold, pending the ruling of a federal judge in Boston.

Fewer Refugees in N.H. Could Add to State's Labor Shortage

Sep 30, 2017
FILE

New Hampshire would likely see fewer refugee resettled here if President Trump’s proposed refugee cap goes into effect.

Manchester Local, Refugee Running for Alderman at Age 20

Sep 14, 2017
Paige Sutherland/NHPR

There’s an aldermen race going on next week in Manchester. And one of the candidates on the ballot would be the city’s youngest elected if he wins.

He turned 20 Thursday, attends UNH Manchester, and is a refugee from Kuwait.

But first he’ll have to clear Tuesday’s primary before he can even make it onto November’s ballot.

SNHU Invests in New Center for Refugees, Immigrants

Sep 11, 2017
FILE

Southern New Hampshire University will soon open a new center to help refugees and immigrants in Manchester further their educations.

Southern N.H. University to Expand Refugee Degree Programs

Jul 19, 2017
Courtesy of SNHU

Two years ago, Southern New Hampshire University began a new program, offering college degrees to refugees in Rwanda. Now, after graduating its first class last month, the school is expanding the program from one refugee camp to five.

NANCY EVE COHEN / NEPR

In his revised executive order, President Donald Trump has cut the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. by more than half. But since the fall of last year, nearly 1800 refugees have already re-settled in New England, and more than a third of them are children and teens.

  At Philip G. Coburn Elementary School in West Springfield, Massachusetts, students come from all over the world.

"My Mom and Dad are from Sudan."

"My Mom and Dad are from Iraq"

"Turkey."

"Afghanistan."

"Nepal."

"I’m from Iraq."

josh rogers/nhpr

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen visited former Iraqi refugee Tamam Mohamad, at the Spice Center market in Manchester to call attention to her opposition to President Trump's new executive order banning U.S. from 6 Muslim-majority countries and freezing all refugee resettlement.

Mohmmad came from Iraq in the late-1990s with $20. He eventually became a citizen and returned to his home country for 3 years as U.S. military interpreter. He says Iraq may not be included in the President’s new executive order, but that doesn’t matter to him.

  Refugee resettlement has resumed in New Hampshire after a federal judge halted President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning refugees.

A federal appeals court last week refused to reinstate the president’s order, which also bans immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

As President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees garners strong reaction from around the country, officials in Durham and Portsmouth have begun discussions about potentially declaring themselves sanctuary cities.

Officials in both communities say they’ve heard from residents about the idea, possibly as part of a coordinated campaign.

Episcopal Church of New Hampshire

Faith leaders in New Hampshire are speaking out against President Donald Trump's executive order that stops refugees from entering the country.

Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders are looking to their faith to explain their opposition to the immigration and refugee ban.

  An organization that resettles refugees in New Hampshire says 11 individuals cleared to arrive in the state next month have been blocked by President Trump’s executive order.

Trump’s order halted new refugees from entering the country for 120 days during a review of the vetting process.

Amy Marchildon with Ascentria Care Alliance in Concord says seven families – 11 individuals in total – from Myanmar and the Democratic Republic of Congo were set to be resettled in Concord and Nashua next month after two years of screening.

Sara Plourde / New England News Collaborative, NHPR

While Republican governors in Massachusetts and Vermont expressed concern over the weekend about President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration and refugees, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu took a more neutral stance when weighing in on the issue Monday.

The Immigration Order: Impact on the Granite State

Jan 30, 2017
Kitt Hodsden; Wikimedia Commons

New Hampshire reaction to the Trump immigration order. We hear from an array of Granite State voices:  politicians who feel this will, in the end, make the state safer.  Immigrants and refugees worried about their families and their futures. Colleges who welcome foreign students.  And major employers from hi-tech to hospitals.

GUESTS:

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