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Editorial: A bipartisan call for compassion

  • Gov. Chris Sununu AP


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

If there were more acts of bipartisanship and compassion like this, the nation would be a better place.

Thank you, Gov. Chris Sununu, for joining Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in making the case against deporting some 70 Seacoast area residents who fled Indonesia to escape religious persecution.

The Indonesians at risk of being deported are part of a community of 1,500 natives of that nation of islands halfway around the world. They came to the United States legally in the 1990s on tourist visas. When those ran out, some immigrants qualified for asylum. Others, primarily for technical reasons, failed to qualify. But thanks in part to a program designed by Shaheen, they were allowed to stay in the United States if they kept in regular contact with federal immigration officials.

The refugees did so, found jobs, joined local churches, contributed to their communities and raised families. Most of their children are U.S. citizens. Then the nation elected a president who promised to purge the nation of illegal immigrants. When they checked in with immigration officers last summer, many of the refugees were told to return with a one-way plane ticket to Indonesia.

Shaheen, the New Hampshire ACLU and others spoke up on their behalf, and a federal judge in Boston issued a temporary stay of deportation proceedings to give the refugees more time to make the case that they should be allowed to stay.

The government’s treatment of these neighbors has been callous, cruel and counterproductive. Why would anyone in their right mind think it makes sense to break up families and send members of their communities back to a country they fled in terror nearly two decades ago? Why, in a state with a shortage of workers, should valued local employees be deported? The answer: They shouldn’t.

“I am confident that upon a closer review you will see that these 69 individuals should be afforded the protection from persecution that all people of faith deserve regardless of what faith they choose to practice,” Sununu said in his letter to Trump. “I am respectfully requesting that your administration reconsider its decision to deport these individuals, and I urge a resolution that will allow them to remain in the United States.”

Well said, governor. We join in your request.