The United States has a history of providing a safe haven to people seeking new beginnings free from violence and oppression. Unfortunately, there are in existence an estimated 14 million refugees around the world and the United States allows only a fraction of them to resettle within our borders annually. LIRS is disturbed by a trend among state legislatures to propose bills limiting the resettlement of refugees in their states.
The New Hampshire state legislature is currently considering a bill which would allow local communities to impose a moratorium on refugee resettlement in their communities. HB 1405 would send an unwelcoming message to refugees living in New Hampshire. Additionally, the bill poses a major obstacle to family reunification efforts, as the refugees New Hampshire currently welcomes all have family ties in the state.
Colette Ramazani came to New Hampshire in 2000 from Rwanda after surviving trauma and experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. In New Hampshire, she sees a therapist and can now work towards a Master’s degree in Global Business while “trying to put the nightmares behind her.” Our tradition of welcoming refugees both protects people in need and enriches American communities with the many gifts they bring.
Americans should not forget that refugees provide numerous contributions to our communities. Past famous refugees include great minds like Albert Einstein, Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and many more. Instead of passing laws to limit refugee resettlement, states should focus on developing innovative ways local communities can better welcome and integrate refugees and encourage federal lawmakers to support positive refugee policies.