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Immigration advocates protest Sununu's comments on migrant flights to Martha's Vineyard

Sebastian Fuentes from Rights and Democracy organized the protest inside the State House this Wednesday.
Gaby Lozada
Sebastian Fuentes from Rights and Democracy organized the protest at the State House Wednesday.

A dozen people gathered at the State House Wednesday to protest against Gov. Chris Sununu’s recent comments on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s decision to send flights of mostly Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.

In an interview with WMUR this weekend, Sununu expressed support for DeSantis’s actions.

“Anything we can do to bring national awareness to it has to be done,” Sununu said, adding that governors are limited in their power to address issues at the border and federal solutions are needed.

When asked whether he would find it acceptable for DeSantis to send migrants to New Hampshire, Sununu objected.

“Oh gosh no, no, of course not,” Sununu said. “Because, again, we’re fighting the fight. I think what you’re seeing is these folks are being moved around the country to areas where they’re ignoring the issue.”

That didn’t sit well with Sebastian Fuentes, who works for Rights and Democracy New Hampshire. He organized a rally to denounce Sununu's recent proclamation celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, in which the governor said he appreciated the labor and culture of New Hampshire’s Latino population. Fuentes said the governor’s comments are hypocritical.

“This is not the America many of us signed up for,” Fuentes said. “He can keep this declaration; his comments are embarrassing.”

The protestors walked to Sununu’s office and asked to meet with the governor, where a secretary said she would pass along the message.

As part of the demonstration, Grace Kindeke from the American Friends Service Committee also gave a speech where she repudiated Title 42, a federal policy that prevents migrants from seeking asylum at the border. It was due to expire but in May a federal judge in Louisiana issued a preliminary injunction that stopped the administration’s plan to terminate it. Local advocates remain frustrated with Democratic officials, including U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan and Chris Pappas, for their support of the policy.

“This situation is incredibly heartbreaking, especially as immigrants ourselves,” Kindeke said.

The protestors said they wanted to remind the governor that New Hampshire has a big immigrant population.

Corrected: October 3, 2022 at 1:13 PM EDT
A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the name of Grace Kindeke's organization and the current status of Title 42.
Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.
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