Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Ongoing war between resettlement agency & Manchester, NH elected officials

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 11, 2011

Manchester’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 9-4 last Tuesday for a moratorium on new refugee settlement in the city, in a long-ongoing dispute with the International Institute of New Hampshire. By itself, however, the city has no power to stop refugee resettlement. The Manchester Union Leader newspaper has a series of articles, editorials and Op-eds on the subject. The chairman of the board of the International Institute, William J. Gillet, also has an Op-ed in opposition to the moratorium vote.

Local elected officials claim that the International Institute has not cooperated in warning them about the number or timing of new refugee arrivals, and say that the city budget crisis, which will cut back on essential services for those in need, leaves refugees without adequate support. Mr. Gillet claims that any lack of resources represents a failure of will and not a failure of ability.

It seems as though the city is an unwilling partner and the International Institute is unable to make up the gap from loss of city services.  What I can’t figure out from any of the public dialogue is how much private resources the International Institute contributes to resettlement. Mr. Gillet only tells us that the Institute receives a net gain from the headquarters in Boston, yet since the Manchester office is essentially a satellite office of the headquarters, why would we assume anything else?

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