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Bar Journal - June 1, 2003

Refugees in NH: NH's Role as a Global Citizen



New Hampshire’s demographics have changed in the last decade, as the state’s historically monochromatic racial palette has expanded to include a variety of international hues. The 2000 census showed that the number of minorities and non-citizens nearly doubled since the 1990 count.1 Students enrolled in the Manchester school system speak over 70 languages.2 The Governor’s Office of Energy and Community Services tracked the arrival and resettlement of over 2,000 refugees from 1996 to 2000.3 Those refugees came from Europe (primarily Bosnia) and Africa (primarily Sudan).4

The presence of immigrants in New Hampshire is not a recent phenomenon, as the state has seen waves of immigrants from England, Scotland, Ireland, Canada, and Greece. However, the state has embraced the recent arrival of people whom have fled from countries where civil war and ethnic cleansing campaigns make the "granite state" a welcome sanctuary by comparison.

This article seeks to address the influx of refugees into New Hampshire, highlight the success of their resettlement, define key terms and concepts, and draw attention to some of the unique challenges refugees (and other non-citizens) face in a world complicated by the events of September 11, 2001, and the ensuing state and federal responses to the threat of future terrorist activity.


As with most any area of the law, deft rhetorical navigation of the immigration field depends on understanding and correctly using its unique terms of art, many of which may have different connotations than when used in a colloquial sense. Therefore, a precise discussion of immigration issues necessarily involves clarifying those particular terms.

For instance, though such a person inevitably hails from the planet earth, American immigration law refers to a non-citizen as an "alien", which means simply "any person not a citizen or national of the United States."5 The Immigration and Nationality Act defines "refugee" as follows:

any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality [ ], and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.6

While "refugee" has a specific statutory definition, other terms that appear in common usage also have technical immigration meanings. For instance, in order to receive "asylum" (and thus be deemed an "asylee"), the U.S. Attorney General must find that a person already within the United States meets the definition of a "refugee".7 Lay people often mistakenly use "immigrant" to refer to anyone who is not a citizen of the United States, when in fact and law, non-citizens lawfully present in the United States fall into one of two categories: (1) immigrant, or (2) non-immigrant. Technically, an "immigrant" is a person admitted to the United States as a "lawful permanent resident" (also known as a "resident alien"), allowing her to remain indefinitely in the United States, so long as she satisfies the specific conditions of her residency.8 A "nonimmigrant" is a person lawfully admitted in one of 22 specifically defined categories for clearly defined periods, such as tourist, student, skilled worker, fiancée, etc.9

The term for gaining legal entry into the United States is "admission" which "mean[s], with respect to an alien, the lawful entry of the alien into the United States after inspection and authorization by an immigration officer."10 Lawful admission is general a prerequisite to obtaining immigration benefits, with the exception of applying for asylum.11

"Unadmitted" non-citizens also have diminished due process rights when it comes to – among other things – their ability to obtain compensation for workplace discrimination12 and their right to challenge government efforts to remove them from the United States.13 However, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, "[i]n decisions spanning more than a century, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Constitution’s guarantees apply to every person within U.S. borders, including ‘aliens whose presence in this country is unlawful [Plyer v. Doe, Supreme Court (1982)].’ … But, once here, even undocumented immigrants have the right to freedom of speech and religion, the right to be treated fairly, the right to privacy, and the other fundamental rights U.S. citizens enjoy."


As the debate about United States immigration policy has flared since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it is important to understand that the United States confers refugee status on people fleeing the most extreme situations of civil strife, normally marked by wide scale campaigns of ethnic cleansing. As noted above, New Hampshire’s recent refugee arrivals hail primarily from Bosnia and Sudan. They have been bombed, threatened, beaten, tortured, raped, lost their homes and their family members. New Hampshire’s refugees have witnessed terrorism first hand and it is terrorism that has brought them here. The United States policy towards refugees has always been a response to terrorism.

Refugee History

According to the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement, "[i]t is the historic policy of the United States to admit to this country refugees of special humanitarian concern, reflecting our core values and our tradition of being a safe haven for the oppressed."14 Congress first put a refugee policy into legislation by enacting the Displaced Persons Act of 1948, which allowed for the admission of refugees fleeing war torn Europe after World War II.15 Since the passage of this historic act the United States welcomed persons fleeing Communist regimes and individuals fleeing the Indo-Chinese region of Asia, including Cambodians and Vietnamese.16 Upon the arrival of hundreds of thousands of Indochinese refugees, Congress passed The Refugee Act of 1980, (Pub. L. No. 96-212) on March 17, 1980.17 The stated goal of this act was "to provide a permanent and systematic procedure for the admission of refugees of special humanitarian concern to the United States and to provide comprehensive and uniform provisions for the effective resettlement and absorption of those refugees who are admitted."18 Thus, the modern refugee resettlement model that is still used today was created.


Like many countries in the region, Bosnia-Herzegovina experienced volatile struggles among competing ethnic and religious groups.19 A February 1992 referendum on Bosnian independence led to armed resistance by Bosnian Serbs, supported by Serbia.20 The Serbs stated goal was to divide the republic along clearly drawn ethnic lines with the ultimate aim of creating a "greater Serbia".21 The resulting conflict continued through much of the mid-1990’s, even after Bosnian Muslims and Croats signed an agreement in March 1994, resulting in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.22 With the warring sides winnowed down to two, the violence continued through 1995, officially ending with the Dayton Peace Agreement, signed on November 21, 1995.23

New Hampshire’s recently arrived Bosnian refugees were admitted to the United States as a result of the barbaric violence which they experienced firsthand, or the danger which they faced not because of political opinion or affiliation, but due to ethnic identity, resulting in torture and killings in the name of a nationalistic vision of a ethically homogenous Bosnia.24

In an August 9, 1995 statement, then-Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Deputy Director for Intelligence John Gannon confirmed reports of rape, torture and murder in the eastern part of the country.25 The CIA confirmed that Bosnian Serb aggression displaced tens of thousands of Muslims, yielded the detention of several thousand more, and resulted in the killings of hundreds of thousands more.26 American intelligence officials learned of the mass executions of men and boys in Zepa and Srebrenica, who were then bulldozed into mass graves on the spot.27 Other refugees reported that the Bosnian Serbs regularly ambushed and killed fleeing Muslims.28


The civil war in Sudan has raged for close to two decades, resulting "in nearly two million deaths from war-related famine, disease and casualties."29 Another four million people have been displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict.30 The Sudanese conflict has its roots in racial, cultural, religious and political divisions, roughly pitting forces in the north against those in the south.31 The northern population consists primarily of Muslims, while the south is comprised of Christians or followers of traditional local religions.32

The geographic journey from Khartoum, Sudan to Manchester, New Hampshire covers more than 6,000 miles. The cultural journey covers an even greater distance. Refugees must learn a new language, a challenge in particular for those who spoke only tribal dialects and never learned to read or write. Agriculture and livestock provide the livelihood for about 80 percent of the Sudanese people and amount to nearly 95 percent of the country’s exports.33 Upon arriving in New Hampshire, most refugees find themselves working in manufacturing jobs, performing essential functions to ensure the efficient operation of multi-million-dollar machinery.34 The climate in Sudan is mild, while New Hampshire recently experienced one of its most bitter winters in a quarter-century.


New Hampshire is anticipating the arrival of a new group of refugees, hopefully, sometime in the next year. In 1999, the United States agreed to accept the bulk of approximately 12,000 Somali Bantu refugees for resettlement.35 "A lucky few will soon be starting an unbelievable journey, swapping a lifetime of poverty and semi-slavery and years of exile in a refugee camp for a new and totally different life in the United States."36

The Somali Bantu’s history began when they were made slaves by Arab slavers who brought Bantu-speaking people from the southern parts of the Horn of Africa to modern day Somalia.37 When the era of slavery ended, the Bantu were never fully integrated into Somali society.38 The Bantu did not send their children to school, could not own land in a meaningful way and had no representation in the government.39

When civil strife rocked the foundations in Somali, the Bantu were easy prey for out of control paramilitaries, especially those living in the Mushunfuli farms.40 For example:

Five gunmen visited Mohammed Yarow’s small holding at 8 one morning in 1992 demanding money. When he told them he had only the pot of beans cooking over an open fire, they stripped him, tied him up and told his wife they would kill him. Instead they also stripped his wife and raped her in front of him. A neighbor who tried to intervene was shot dead. The gunmen finally left, but Mohammend Yarow refused to allow his wife to untie him until the following day, fearful the thugs might return and kill the entire family. They spent weeks roaming the countryside, begging for food and scavenging before finally reaching Kenya.41

The Yarow and other similarly situated Bantu refugees have now spent years languishing in a refugee camp in Dadaab, Kenya.42 The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stated in a report that "Somali Bantus are attacked more frequently in Dadaab than other refugees."43

The trials of the Bantu have been many and they are undoubtedly looking forward to coming to the United States. However, they will have many challenges when they arrive. "Most cannot read, write or speak English. They are sturdy farm workers with few other skills, who have never turned on an electrical light switch, used a flush toilet, crossed a busy street, ridden in a car or on an elevator, seen snow or experienced air conditioning."44 The Somali Bantus will need a tremendous amount of assistance in acclimating to their new environment when they arrive in New Hampshire. The International Institute of New Hampshire (IINH), a non-profit refugee resettlement organization, has already agreed to provide assistance to these refugees and New Hampshire has been accepted as a potential resettlement site. The success of other third world groups in making this cultural journey is the basis of their acceptance by the United States and the basis of their placement in New Hampshire. Hopefully, New Hampshire will be able to welcome its newest residents.


The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was established by the United Nations on May 18, 1954 when it passed the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (hereinafter "Convention on Refugees").45 On November 1, 1968 the United States signed the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (hereinafter "1967 Protocol"), which extended the commitment of nations to protect individuals who became refugees after January 1, 1951.46 The 1967 Protocol incorporates the definition of refugee and most of the provisions of the Convention on Refugees.47 The UNHCR protects refugees throughout the world and makes initial recommendations that certain groups of refugees should be allowed to seek refugee status.48 However, the UNHCR makes it clear that "[g]overnments establish status determination procedures to decide a person’s legal standing and rights in accordance to their own legal systems."49 Therefore, while the UNHCR may make nations aware of groups of refugees who are in need of resettlement, the UNHCR cannot designate which refugees will be accepted into a specific country.

The UNHCR has stated that at the beginning of 2002, they considered that there were 19.8 million "people of concern."50 The UNHCR’s statistical report summarizes these "people of concern":

As conflict continued to grip many parts of the world, nearly 200,000 Afghans joined 3.5 million countrymen already living abroad as refugees, 188,000 Africans fled to neighboring countries as did 93,000 former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). An additional [511,000] civilians became ‘internally displaced persons’ (so-called IDPs) within Afghanistan, 190,500 in Colombia and 112,000 in Liberia.51

Only a very small portion of the 19.8 million people of concern will come to the United States as refugees, and the United States government will make these determinations.

Federal Government

The United States refugee program involves both private and public institutions.52 The federal agencies involved include: the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Health and Human Services.53 The federal government provides money to individual states and some states also provide additional funding.54 Most states then distribute the federal money to non-governmental organizations that is combined with private and community contributions.55

Through the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), the Department of State administers its refugee program.56 The PRM "has primary responsibility for formulating policies on population, refugees, and migration, and for administering U.S. refugee assistance and admissions programs."57 It is the PRM that makes recommendations about which groups of refugees the United States will ultimately resettle and when they will be processed.58 The PRM also conducts programs abroad to prepare refugees for what they will experience when they arrive in the United States.59 Finally, the PRM provides the funds to non-governmental organizations, which assist refugees upon their initial arrival into the United States.60 More specifically, it funds non-governmental organizations to provide: 1) sponsorship assurance; 2) pre-arrival resettlement planning; 3) airport reception; 4) basic needs support for at least 30 days, including the provision of decent, safe, and sanitary housing, essential furnishings, food or a food allowance, necessary clothing and other basic necessities; 5) at least one home visit within the first 30 days by affiliate staff, co-sponsor or other designated representative; 6) case management, including counseling, adjustment, and referral services throughout the initial 90-day reception and placement (R&P) period; 7) community orientation; 8) referral to physical and mental health services; and 9) referral to employment services.61

The Department of Homeland Security, through the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS, formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)) makes individual determinations whether an individual qualifies as a refugee under the United States immigration law.62 Cases are referred to the BCIS by the UNHCR or through a United States embassy or consulate.63 Some refugees are automatically eligible to apply for refugee status because they have been designated by the PRM for processing.64

Generally, a refugee will first meet with an overseas Processing Entity (OPE).65 These OPEs assist refugees by doing an initial assessment of their case, preparing their refugee applications and gathering the necessary documentation before the refugee meets with someone from BCIS.66 The BCIS will meet with each applicant for refugee status individually and make an eligibility determination.67 According to the BCIS, "[t]he interview is non-adversarial and is designed to elicit information about the applicant’s claim for refugee status."68 Once a refugee is approved, the BCIS will do a medical exam and conduct security checks on the individual and any family members traveling with him or her.69 If these are satisfactory, the BCIS will make transportation arrangements through the International Organization for Migration (IOM).70 Most refugees receive a loan from the IOM that they must repay.71

When a refugee enters the United States the BCIS will issue him or her an I-94 Card which provides him or her with employment authorization.72 After one year from their arrival in the United States, the BCIS will process their adjustment of status application so that they may become a legal permanent resident.73 Five years from a refugee’s admission into the United States, a refugee may apply for their citizenship, which will also be adjudicated by the BCIS.74

The Department of Health and Human Services administers vital programs that provide crucial assistance to refugees when they first arrive in the United States.75 The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) is the federal agency that administers funds to the states to support refugee programs.76 In fiscal year 2002, the ORR appropriated $158.6 million to states.77 Programs funded by ORR include: employment and social services ($71.9million); continuation social services ($12.7 million); programs in communities with large concentrations of refugees whose cultural differences make assimilation especially difficult justifying a more intense and longer duration of federal assistance ($26 million); programs in communities impacted by recent changes in federal assistance programs relating to welfare reform ($14 million); and educational programs for refugee children ($15 million).78 The amount that each state gets of the $71.9 million allocated for employment and social services is dependent on "each State’s proportion of the national population who had been in the United States three years or less."79

The individuals who may be served by the funding allocated through the ORR include refugees, asylees, victims of severe trafficking, and a limited number of special immigrants.80 ORR encourages states to use the money to "ensure that all newly arriving refugees receive refugee-specific services designed to address the employment barriers that refugees typically face." The goal of federal resettlement programs is to move refugees into the work force as quickly as possible.81 The hope is to reduce welfare dependency and encourage self-sufficiency.82

In order to encourage the goal of self-sufficiency, the ORR must consider the following before placing refugees in a specific state: (1) the number of refugees already settled in the area; (2) employment opportunities, affordable housing, and public and private resources in the area (including educational, health care, and mental health services); (3) the chances of refugees achieving self-sufficiency and freedom from dependence on public assistance; and (4) whether the refugees are likely to migrate out of the area.83 The federal government works closely with the state governments to ensure that a state like New Hampshire does not receive more refugees than it can handle.

New Hampshire is an excellent community for resettling newcomers to the U.S. It enjoys some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country (4.8%), low housing costs, and a strong manufacturing economy.84 Immigrants and refugees find an overall atmosphere of welcome and interest in diversifying what is nearly an all-white culture.85 Many New Hampshire employers want to hire newcomers due to their excellent work ethic.86 Therefore, the combination of the federal planning/federal funding and the general conditions of the state, make New Hampshire an excellent site for refugees to begin their new lives when provided with local agency assistance.

State Government

The New Hampshire Refugee Office is an administrative office of the New Hampshire governor. Recently, the New Hampshire Refugee Office moved from the Governor’s Office of Energy and Community Services to the Department of Health and Human Services.87 This reorganization by Governor Benson will not likely result in any fundamental changes to the New Hampshire Refugee Office’s operations. The New Hampshire Refugee Office is responsible for administering the federal dollars allocated to the state for assistance to refugees.88

The New Hampshire Refugee Office states, "[t]he major goal of this program is to assist refugees in achieving economic self-sufficiency and social adjustment upon arrival to the United States."89 They achieve this goal through the administration of the federal funds to non-profit organizations.90 These organizations "agree to resettle a number of refugees at the start of the fiscal year based on their perceived capacity to provide services for new arrivals…"91

According to statistics gathered by the New Hampshire’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, "[s]ince the early-1980s more than 5,000 refugees have made New Hampshire their home."92 In New Hampshire, although refugees have settled throughout the state, the largest concentration is in Hillsborough County.93 Refugees have also settled in the Concord, Franklin and Laconia areas.94

Statistics from 1997 to 2000 regarding countries of origin for refugees show that refugees in New Hampshire hail from three continents: Europe (71%), Africa (16%) and Asia (12%).95 The largest group of refugees in New Hampshire is from Bosnia. Nearly 57% of the refugees resettled in New Hampshire are from Bosnia. The next highest number are from Sudan (7%) and the third highest are from Croatia (6%). 96

Non-Governmental Organizations

In the State of New Hampshire, there are two non-governmental organizations that currently assist refugees in their resettlement process, the International Institute of New Hampshire (IINH), located in Manchester, NH and Lutheran Social Services, located in Concord, NH. The programs administered by these organizations include case management services, refugee cash assistance and refugee medical assistance, English as a second language (ESL), and employment services.97

IINH was founded in 1994 as a reorganization, continuation, and expansion of existing services in place since 1987. 98 Building on the foundation of experienced resettlement workers who are now IINH staff, the institute has served as the leader in New Hampshire refugee resettlement.99 In the past year, over 50% of New Hampshire’s new arrivals were successfully resettled by IINH.100

IINH’s programs are established to:

  1. help newcomers and their families find pathways into the American mainstream including pathways to employment and self-sufficiency, to active participation in their children’s schooling, and to active citizenship within the community;
  2. strengthen families by helping to rebuild relationships and infrastructure destroyed by tragic circumstances, and by helping newcomers redefine familial roles within American culture;
  3. overcome language and cultural barriers to increase access to vital health and mental health care services for refugees and their families; and
  4. address important issues such as the rights of endangered women and children, emotional support for political trauma and torture survivors, and to advocate for victims of family and community violence.101


Social/Health Services

IINH’s social and health services provide the foreign-born with culturally and linguistically appropriate resettlement assistance. Reception and placement and counseling program staff orient newcomers and their families to their neighborhoods and ensure that they can manage day-to-day necessities.102 They meet new arrivals at the airport; locate initial housing, clothing, furniture and food; assist with health screening and school enrollments; and orient newcomers in their native language to their new community and culture.103 In times of crisis, IINH counselors may find shelters and safe-houses for endangered women and children, and accompany program participants to hospitals and police stations, providing translations for medical and law enforcement personnel.104

Arriving from war zones, underdeveloped countries, and refugee camps, many refugees did not receive adequate health care for many years.105 Their needs are often immediate and urgent.106 The process is further complicated by language barriers and refugees’ unfamiliarity with medicine as it is practiced in the U.S.107 IINH’s health and mental health care coordination department is responsible for accessing primary health care for every refugee soon after their arrival in New Hampshire.108 IINH coordinates the health needs of all newly arriving refugees.109 They also provide transportation and bilingual staff or interpreters to accompany refugees to their health appointments.110 In addition, IINH reaches out to health care providers who are willing to enroll IINH clients in their practice.111 In addition to physical health, IINH’s mental health program responds to the needs of clients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and adjustment issues.112 In this program, IINH offers initial assessments, referrals or interventions for those in need.113 These services assist newly arrived refugees in successfully navigating the muddy waters of the U.S. health care system.

Education Services

Initiated in the fall of 1994, IINH’s English as a second language program (hereinafter "ESL Program") serves refugees from a range of cultures and learning levels.114 Without English language proficiency, there is little hope of advancement within the NH education and employer community. IINH’s ESL program provides refugee students with practical English skills that will assist them in their daily lives.115

Employment and Training Services

Built during the past five years, IINH’s employment and training program has truly been comprehensive.116 It provides specialized, culturally and linguistically appropriate job counseling, work orientation, job development, job placement and follow-up, and referrals to skills-training programs with an excellent rate of early placement.117 The success of the IINH’s employment program can be seen by looking at the numbers. According to IINH statistics of those refugees who are deemed "employable" (according to Department of State guidelines) between the ages of 18-65, 73% were employed within four and a half months from their date of arrival in the United States; and 80% were employed within six months.118 Currently the IINH works with over 150 employers in the greater Manchester area to place refugees in jobs.119

IINH’s newest program, called the refugee school impact grant, will provide direct services to refugee school children in the Manchester public school system.120 More than 1,000 refugees between the ages of five and eighteen have resettled in greater Manchester since 1983.121 One of IINH’s social workers and two bicultural staff members will work with the Manchester school system to: 1) improve the academic performance, physical health, and mental health of refugee children; 2) provide an orientation to American school systems for refugee families; and 3) provide mental health assessment, screening, intervention, direct care and referral services to refugee students who have experienced or witnessed extreme trauma.122 The project will be integrated into IINH’s continuum of services, ensuring that refugee students and their families have access to additional services that will support their social integration and academic success.


Non-citizens in general, and refugees in particular, have had to bear the brunt of changes since the tragic events of September 11, 2001. U.S. immigration policy has emerged as a politically charged issue since the tragedy. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), an oft-criticized federal agency historically mandated to handle all immigration-related matters, ceased to exist on March 1, 2003.123 The basic functions of the former INS have been reassigned to two distinct divisions of the newly formed Department of Homeland Security (DHS).124 The stated mission of DHS is to:

  1. prevent terrorist attacks within the United States;
  2. reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; and
  3. minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States.125

Immigration service duties now fall to the Bureau of Citizenship and Information Services (BCIS), while immigration enforcement is the responsibility of the Bureau for Customs and Immigration Enforcement (BICE).126

The President recently requested $3.5 billion "for the Department of Homeland Security to confront threats to the United States and the American people."127

While immigration law, procedures and policy have undergone large-scale changes since September 2001, unadmitted refugees have felt the effects of those changes directly. According to Office of Refugee Resettlement statistics, the U.S. has resettled 2.4 million refugees since 1975.128 The average number admitted annually since 1980 is 98,000.129 In 2001, the United States admitted fewer refugees than any year since 1987. 130 In fiscal year 2001,131 the United States resettled 68,009 refugees.132 In fiscal year 2002, those numbers dropped to 17,1768 refugees.133

Almost immediately after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks on September 11, 2001, the U.S. refugee program came to a halt.134 On November 21, 2001, the Bush administration committed to admitting 70,000 refugees for fiscal year 2002, but far less than that number actually made it to the United States. 135 This fiscal year the President approved a ceiling of 70,000,136 but stated that it expected that only 50,000 would be admitted.137 At the current time it is projected that fewer than 20,000 refugees will be admitted.138 This will be the lowest number in the 28 years of the federal resettlement program.139 According to Don Melvin, a journalist for Cox News Service, "[e]very war has unintended consequences. Advocates say the 'collateral damage' in the war against terrorism has included some of the world’s most vulnerable people: refugees fleeing persecution in their homelands."140


Special Registration

In August 2002, the United States Department of Justice finalized a rule that set the stage for subsequent call-in registration procedures for certain males visiting the United States from designated countries.141 Citizens and nationals of the following countries have been required to register, in four staggered groups, as follows:

I. Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syrian, Libya142 February 7, 2003
II. Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Eritrea, Lebanon, Morocco, North Korea, Oman, Qatar, Somalia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen143 February 7, 2003
III. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia144 March 21, 2003
IV. Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, and Kuwait145 April 25, 2003

Until further notice, Special Registrants must re-register annually.146 They must notify the Department of Homeland Security of changes of address within ten days of such a change.147 They may also be required to depart only from certain designated ports.148 Assuming this regulation, which primarily applies to the entry registration, applies to the call-in registrant, the call-in registrant’s failure to depart from one of the designated ports may result in a presumption that the registrant is inadmissible.149

Law Enforcement

In January of 2003, in addition to the special registration program detailed above, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) undertook a massive effort to question Iraqis in the United States.150 Unlike special registration, however, the FBI investigation was not limited to visitors, students and other non-immigrants.151 The FBI specifically targeted 50,000 of the estimated 300,000 Iraqis currently living in the United States, including lawful permanent residents and naturalized United States citizens.152

After having conducted nearly 10,000 interviews nationally, the FBI may have gleaned somewhere in the vicinity of 250 useful tips, mostly relating to potential weapons caches in Iraq.153 Hussein Ibish, of the American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee, pointedly inquired if the costs of the massive scale of the FBI focus on Iraqi-Americans outweighed any potential benefits reaped: "Costs in terms of our values, in terms of the United States as a country that doesn’t practice discrimination; costs in terms of the disruption to the lives of ordinary people; and costs in terms of the relationship of law enforcement and federal government with our community."154

Driver’s Licenses

The New Hampshire Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles has quietly adopted new policies for the issuance of driver’s licenses to non-U.S. citizens.155 Under the new policy, all New Hampshire non-citizens must obtain and renew their licenses from the central DMV office in Concord, regardless of where they live.156 Non-citizens must provide proof of their immigration status to DMV officials.157 The Department of Safety will issue licenses only for the duration of the applicant’s current immigration status, regardless of the likelihood of renewal or extension of that status.158 Also, some non-citizens, especially refugees, also have trouble overcoming the proof of New Hampshire residency requirement as the DMV accepts only limited documentation to prove residency. For refugees, for example, they will only accept a letter from the IINH if the refugee cannot produce a utility bill.

This policy results in a sort of "catch-22" for many non-citizens, particularly those who find themselves in New Hampshire on a valid tourist visa. DMV will not issue a New Hampshire driver’s license to a foreign visitor.159 However, New Hampshire’s motor vehicle code requires a person to obtain a New Hampshire license in order to drive on the ways of the state.160 If a non-resident establishes residence in New Hampshire, she has sixty (60) days to obtain a valid driver’s license.161 The unenviable result is that a non-resident can be (and, anecdotally, some have been) charged with operating a motor vehicle without a valid license, despite her inability to obtain that license. Other states in New England allow their residents to obtain drivers licenses. These states argue that they are necessary for public safety, to assist in securing information should there be an accident or violation, and to give a clear identification card for all the residents regardless of their immigration status.

Lead Paint

On April 21, 2000, a two-year old Sudanese refugee living in Manchester, New Hampshire, died at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.162 An autopsy found that the child died of "diffuse cerebral edema", attributable to extremely elevated levels of lead.163 The official public health investigation concluded that the most likely source of the poisoning was lead paint and dust from the child’s Manchester apartment.164 In March 2002, the property manager who had rented the apartment to the toddler’s family began serving a 15-month federal prison sentence for violation of federal lead-paint disclosure laws.165 This case starkly illustrates the potentially disastrous consequences resulting from the cultural chasm that refugees must bridge in order to integrate successfully into American culture.


The steady stream of refugees coming to New Hampshire presents a mix of opportunities and challenges. Lest the nature of the relationship between refugees and their new haven be misunderstood to be one-sided, the reality presents a more symbiotic condition. Recent refugees generally maintain stable employment, and, in the long run, contribute more in taxes than they receive in public assistance. Refugees’ intangible contributions in terms of enriching the cultural and social landscape of the "granite state" do not fit neatly into quantifiable facts and figures. That enrichment is perhaps the greatest gift these newcomers bring to their new home.

Despite concerns for national security, America would be ill-advised to close its borders to those seeking the very protections upon which this nation was originally founded. With the help of non-governmental agencies and an informed and generous citizenry, refugees should find New Hampshire to be a welcoming new haven from the chaos from which they have been forced to flee.


1. U.S. Census Bureau, comparison of 1990 & 2000 counts.
2. City of Manchester web site,
3. Report of Governor’s Office of Refugee & Community Services,
4. Id.
5. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(3).
6. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A); see also, United Nations 1951 Convention Relating to Status of Refugees.
7. See 8 C.F.R. § 208.13.
8. See 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(20).
9. Id. § 1101(a)(15)(A) through (V).
10. Id. § 1101(a)(13)(A).
11. See 8 U.S.C. § 1255; 8 U.S.C. § 1158(a)(1)
12. See Hoffman Plastic Compounds, Inc. v. N.L.R.B., 535 U.S. 137 (2002).
13. See, e.g., Albathani v. Immigration and Naturalization Service, 318 F.3d 365 (1st Cir. 2003).
14. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement web page at:
15. The Displaced Persons Act of 1948; 8 U.S.C. § 647 (June 25, 1948) This act defined a refugee in the following way: Section 7: … priority in the issuance of visas shall be given first to eligible displaced persons who during the World War II bore arms against the enemies of the United States and are unable or unwilling to return to the countries of which they are nationals because of persecution or fear of persecution on account of race, religion or political opinions and second, to eligible displaced persons who, on January 1, 1948, were located in displaced persons camps and centers, but in exceptional cases visas may be issued to those eligible displaced persons located outside of displaced persons camps and centers upon a showing, in accordance with the regulations of the Commission, of special circumstances which would justify such issuance."
16. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement web page at:
17. See id.
18. The Refugee Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-212 (March 17, 1980).
19. Background Note, Bosnia & Herzegovina, U.S. State Dept., Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, February 2003, available at
20. Id.
21. Id.
22. Id.
23. Id. (The parties signed the final version of the accord on December 14, 1995 in Paris).
24. See Weine, M.D., Stevan M, Bosnian Refugees: Memories, Witnessing, and History after Dayton, available at
25. Text of statement available at
26. Id.
27. Id.
28. Id.
29. U.S. Committee for Refugees, available at
30. Id. at
31. Id.
32. Id.
33. Library of Congress Country Study – Sudan, available at
34. Interview with Nicole Taylor, Employment Coordinator of the International Institute of New Hampshire, a non-profit refugee resettlement agencies that assists newly arrived refugees in the United States, April 15, 2003.
35. See "After Three Years: Somali Bantus Prepare to Come to America," Sasha Chanoff, Refugee Reports, Volume 23, Number 8 (November 2002).
36. "A Lucky Few," Refugee, United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, Volume 3, Number 128 (2002) at 1.
37. See id.
38. See id.
39. See id.
40. See "After Three Years: Somali Bantus Prepare to Come to America," Sasha Chanoff, Refugee Reports, Volume 23, Number 8 (November 2002).
41. "The Somali Bantu: The Slave Trail," Refugee, United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, Volume 3, Number 128 (2002) at 14.
42. See "After Three Years: Somali Bantus Prepare to Come to America," Sasha Chanoff, Refugee Reports, Volume 23, Number 8 (November 2002)
43. Id. at 2
44. "A Lucky Few," Refugee, United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, Volume 3, Number 128 (2002) at 1.
45. See Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, 189 U.N.T.S. 137 (April 22, 1954)
46. See Protocol Relating to the status of Refugees, 19 U.S.T. 6223, T.I.A.S. No. 6577, 606 U.N.T.S. 267, reprinted in 6 I.L. M. 78 (1967). The United States is a party to the 1967 Protocol only, which incorporates the text of the 1950 Convention.
47. See id.
48. See United Nations High Commission for Refugees website at:
49. Id.
50. See United Nations High Commission for Refugees website at:
51. Id.
52. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement webpage at:
53. See id.
54. See id.
55. See id.
56. See United States Department of State website at:
57. Id.
58. See id.
59. See id.
60. See id.
61. See United States Department of State website at:
62. See U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services website at:
63. See id.
64. See id.
65. See id.
66. See id.
67. See id.
68. Id.
69. See id.
70. See id.
71. See id.
72. See id.
73. See 8 U.S.C. § 1159(a)
74. See U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services website at:
75. The Refugee Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-212 (March 17, 1980). The Act: "Requires the Director in making available assistance, to give consideration to: (1) employment training and placement; (2) English-language training; (3) insuring that cash assistance is made available to refugees in such a manner as not to discourage their economic self-sufficiency; and (4) equal opportunity to services for women. Requires a State, as a condition of receiving assistance, to submit a statewide resettlement plan and an annual report on its use of Federal funds. Directs the Secretary, together with the Secretary of State, to develop a system for monitoring all refugee assistance provided under this Act, including program evaluations, financial auditing, and data collection. Directs the Attorney General to provide refugee status adjustment information to the Director for compilation and evaluation
76. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement webpage at:
77. Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, Pub. L. No. 107-116 (2002)
78. See id.
79. Id.
80. See 45 CFR 400.43 (as amended by 65 FR15409 (March 22, 2000)
Benefits are available to individuals: (1) Paroled as a refugee or asylee unde, r section 212(d)(5) of the Act; (2) Admitted as a refugee under section 207 of the Act; (3) Granted asylum under section 208 of the Act; (4) Cuban and Haitian entrants, in accordance with requirements in 45 CFR part 401; (5) Certain Amerasians from Vietnam who are admitted to the U.S. as immigrants pursuant to section 584 of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1988 (as contained in section 101(e) of Public Law 100-202 and amended by the 9th proviso under Migration and Refugee Assistance in title II of the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Acts, 1989 (Public Law 100-461 as amended)); or (6) Admitted for permanent residence, provided the individual previously held one of the statuses identified above.
81. See Wilson/Fish Amendment 64 FR 19793 (April 22, 1999) States that the goal of the DHHS programs related to refugees is: "to provide integrated services and cash assistance to refugees in order to increase refugees’ prospects for early employment and self-sufficiency, reduce their level of welfare dependence, enhance acculturation, and promote coordination among voluntary resettlement agencies and service providers."
82. See id.
83. See 8 U.S.C. 1522(a)(2)(C)
84. See id.; New Hampshire Employment Security website at:
85. This information was obtained through co-author, Melanie M. Ryan, Esq.’s work at the IINH and is based on interviews with staff and internal statistics of the agency.
86. See id.
87. See "Benson Closes Energy Office Moves Programs to Planning," Tom Fahey, The Union Leader, A8, March 11, 2003
88. The Refugee Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-212 (March 17, 1980). The Act: "Requires a State, as a condition of receiving assistance, to submit a statewide resettlement plan and an annual report on its use of Federal funds." See also State of New Hampshire, Governor’s Office of Energy & Community Services website at
89. Id.
90. See id.
91. Id.
92. See State of New Hampshire, Governor’s Office of Energy & Community Services website at
93. See id.
94. See id.
95. See id.
96. See id.
97. See State of New Hampshire, Governor’s Office of Energy & Community Services website at
98 The following information was obtained through co-author, Melanie M. Ryan, Esq.’s work at the IINH and is based on interviews with staff and internal statistics of the agency.
99. See id.
100. See id.
101. See id.
102. See id.
103. See id.
104. See id.
105. See id.
106. See id.
107. See id.
108. See id.
109. See id.
110. See id.
111. See id.
112. See id.
113. See id.
114. See id.
115. See id.
116. See id.
117. See id.
118. See id.
119. See id.
120. See id.
121. See id.
122. See id.
123 See, e.g., 68 FR 10921, published March 6, 2003.
124. H.R. 5005-8, Homeland Security Act of 2002.
125. Id. at Tit. I, §101(b).
126. Information available at U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s official web site,
127. Department of Homeland Security, Press Release, issued March 24, 2003 (available at
128. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement webpage at:
129. See id.
130. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (then-INS) Statistical Yearbook, available at
131. The fiscal year for the federal government runs from October 1 to September 30.
132. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement webpage at:
133. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children And Families, Office of Refugee Resettlement webpage at: (numbers provided do not include refugees who arrived in August and September of 2002).
134. Refugee Reports, Vol. 23, No. 1
135. See Presidential Determination Number 2002-04, (November 21, 2001), can be found at White House website at:
136. See Presidential Determination Number 2003-02, (October 16, 2002), can be found at White House website at:
137. See "President Issues Determination Regarding 2003 Refugee Admissions; IRSA Calls Administration Plan ‘Disappointing’," Press Release (October 17, 2002), found at U.S. Committee for Refugees website at:
138. Interview with Westy Egmont, Executive Director, International Institute of Boston, Boston, MA (April 18, 2003)
139. See "2002: Lowest Refugee Admissions in Two Decades?" Alyson Springer, Refugee Reports, Vol. 23, No. 4 (May 2002)
140. "Casualties of Terror War," by Don Melvin Cox News Service, The WASHINGTON TIMES, September 23, 2002.
141. 8 C.F.R. Parts 214 and 264.
142. See 67 Fed. Reg. 66765-68 (Nov. 6, 2002); see also 68 Fed. Reg. 2366-2367 (Jan. 16, 2003).
143. See 67 Fed. Reg. 70525-28 (Nov. 22, 2002); 68 Fed. Reg. 2366-2367 (Jan. 16, 2003).
144. See 67 Fed. Reg. 77642-77644; 68 Fed. Reg. 8046-8047.
145. See 68 Fed. Reg. 2363-2366; 68 Fed. Reg. 8046-8047.
146. See 8 C.F.R. §264.1 (f)(5)
147. See 8 C.F.R. §264.1 (f)(6)
148. See 8 C.F.R. § 264.1(f)(8).
149. See id.
150. Washington Times, January 26, 2003.
151. Id.
152. Id.
153. S. Waterman, FBI questioned 10,000 Iraqis in the U.S., United Press International, April 17, 2003.
154. Id.
155. See, N.H. R.S.A. 263:39-a; see also Department of Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles policy memorandum, obtained pursuant to New Hampshire’s "Right to Know" law, N.H. R.S.A. 91-A.
156. Id.
157. Id.
158. Id.
159. Id.
160. N.H. R.S.A. 263:1.
161. N.H. R.S.A. 263:35.
162. Manchester Union-Leader, April 25, 2000.
163. Caron, et al, Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, Centers for Disease Control, June 8, 2001.
164. Id.
165. Manchester Union-Leader, March 27, 2002.

The Authors

Attorney Melanie Ryan heads the legal department for the International Institute of New Hampshire, based in Manchester.

Ronald L. Abramson is a partner in the law firm of Abramson, Bailinson & O’Leary, in Manchester, where he concentrates on immigration and criminal defense.



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