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No official request for NH to take illegal kids

CONCORD — New Hampshire has not had an official request from federal officials to house unaccompanied children who have come into this country illegally.

“There has been no request to open up any kind of shelter here,” said Rick Cricenti, director of emergency services for the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement has placed 13 illegal immigrant children with “sponsors” in the Granite State. Sponsors are typically a parent or a relative of the child. The sponsor takes care of the child while his or her immigration case proceeds.

Before children are released to a sponsor, they receive vaccinations and medical screenings, according to the agency, which said it does not accept any children who have a contagious condition.

Last month, federal officials asked Massachusetts to shelter some of the 57,000 children flooding into this country from Central America, but the state was told Wednesday its help is no longer needed.

Massachusetts had suggested several closed military installation on Cape Cod and in the western part of the state to house the children, but was told due to a slowdown in the number crossing the border, the facilities would not be needed.

The request brought out protesters in the Bay State, who objected to the illegal immigrant children being housed in the state.

Cricenti said the federal Health and Human Services agency looks for facilities that are capable of holding several hundred children.

“New Hampshire does not have the sites to do that comfortably,” Cricenti said. “If it were a very short period of time, you could look at a college in summer or something like that, but as an on-gong place, there is nothing I’m aware of to do that without interrupting some other service.”

When federal officials began asking states earlier this summer for help housing the detained unaccompanied children, Gov. Maggie Hassan said the state had received no such request, but would consider it if a request were made.

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