Communities have little say about the amount of refugees they receive


The federal resettlement program began 35 years ago, and today includes some 190 sites across the country.

In New Hampshire, four cities – Nashua, Manchester, Laconia and Concord – take in refugees, but the numbers are not evenly distributed. Nationally, nearly 70,000 refugees immigrated to the U.S. in the last fiscal year; 373 of those came to New Hampshire, and 189 of those came to Concord.  

The city of Concord has minimal say, and minimal official responsibilities, over refugee resettlement.

State and resettlement officials will typically share the information they receive about resettlement projections with local officials.

Concord, in turn, has an opportunity to provide some input on those projections. But as decisions are being made about how many new refugees will resettle here, there’s rarely a discussion – with Concord officials, at least – about the current status of the local economy and what kind of resources are available, according to City Manager Tom Aspell.

City employees – who work in public assistance programs, public safety or otherwise – provide help to individual refugees as needed.

“We just do what we normally do for anybody else that comes in,” said Jacqueline Whatmough, the city’s human services director.

The national refugee resettlement program runs as a partnership between the federal government and nine private resettlement agencies. Ascentria Care Alliance, which oversees resettlement in Concord, is a subsidiary of three of those private agencies.

Each year, the State Department announces resettlement projections for the coming fiscal year. States can then comment on those, raising concerns or requesting changes.

Barbara Seebart, New Hampshire’s refugee coordinator, said she regularly meets with school officials, health care workers, social service providers, state partners, volunteers, ESL teachers and local resettlement agencies to gather feedback.

New Hampshire receives a few hundred refugees each year. Since October, for instance, the state welcomed more than 160 new refugees from 16 different countries, according to federal data. Many come in pairs or groups.

Most of those newcomers come from Rwanda — 41 total in the last five months. They are joined by 23 refugees from Nepal, 20 from Iraq, 16 from Namibia and 13 from Uganda, as well as others from Ethiopia, Malaysia, South Africa and elsewhere.

The number of refugees arriving annually in New Hampshire has waned in recent years, down from a peak of 559 in 2009 to 345 in 2014.

Those numbers represent a small fraction of the total number of refugees resettled nationally. During the last fiscal year, for example, 7,214 refugees arrived in Texas, 6,108 in California, 4,082 in New York, 4,006 in Michigan and 1,941 in Massachusetts. Connecticut and Maine resettled slightly more than New Hampshire; Vermont and Rhode Island resettled slightly fewer.

Not everyone stays put. Between 2005 and 2012, 648 resettled people moved out of New Hampshire, and 55 arrived from out of state, according to Seebart.

New Hampshire’s largest incoming populations are from Bhutan, the Congo and Iraq. While the Bhutanese are the biggest, their rate of growth is declining.

Syrian refugees could begin arriving in the state within the next couple of years. Some have already arrived in the states. The UNHCR hopes to resettle 130,000 Syrian refugees globally by 2016.

Amy Marchildon, director of Services for New Americans, the local Ascentria subsidiary, said New Hampshire is considered a “third tier site,” meaning it could be a few years before Syrians start arriving in any substantial numbers.

Overall, the influx of new refugees has not been a difficult burden for Concord. Rather, city officials said the new cultures have been a benefit to the community.

“When folks first started being resettled here, people would notice people of different skin colors and different habits of dress downtown, maybe for the first year or two,” Aspell said. “People just expect it now. People know it’s a refugee resettlement community, and from what I can see, people welcome it.”

(Casey McDermott can be reached at 369-3306 or or on Twitter @caseymcdermott. Jeremy Blackman can be reached at 369-3319 or or on Twitter @JBlackmanCM.)


4 thoughts on “Communities have little say about the amount of refugees they receive

  1. But this story goes much deeper. These illegals are bringing with them a host of other “illegals,” like scabies and lice and other things. I was surprised (or, was I?) to learn that Wal-Mart (at some locations) has a section of the store that is titled: “Hispanic Needs.” In this section of the store these illegals can find the (cheap) remedy for whatever ails them (scabies, lice, etc), yet the people that they have “transferred” the scabies and lice to (ie: natural-born Americans) are dependent upon their (very expensive) doctor who, in short, does nothing more than keeps them coming back for more treatments.
    I do NOT blame the illegals….but I DO blame our government….a government of parasites.

    1. “I do NOT blame the illegals….but I DO blame our government…”

      For a long time I’ve held this same view. If I were a Mexican, I’d probably be crossing over the border, too. What changed my mind about them is that they’ve stated their goals here, and they have nothing to do with immigration. They have a publicly stated communal goal of “taking this land back for Mexico” and “killing all the gringos”, and that’s not just a few “Atzlan” mouthpieces; you’ll see that in all of their actions they take an anti-American stand, against our country, our people, and our flag. It’s a communal effort that they all support, and adhere to. Did you ever see a Mexican pay any respect to this country? Or are they only here to grab whatever they can?

      They’ve publicly stated and demonstrated that they’re our enemy, and are here to destroy this country. That’s not the behavior of refugees, or immigrants. It’s the behavior and statements of an invading army.

      The fact of them being encouraged, invited, and aided by our “government” and “American corporations”, can ONLY be defined as treason.

      1. Yep! Especially when they hang the Mexican flag above the US flag in America. Also when you have a guy in Austin, TX running up the exit ramp and waving a huge Mexican flag around like he’s Mel Gibson in the movie, “The Patriot”, then clearly, you can see that most of them don’t give two-shits about our country.

        Hell, the Commies have taught them through Common Core and other propaganda that we have no country and that it is all made up of immigrants and free for all.

        So don’t feel sorry for these Mexicans because they know EXACTLY what they are doing and it is nothing more than utter invasion.

  2. Maybe someone with the knowledge could hot wire that fence down there on the border. We do it for cattle to keep them off our fences.
    . . .

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