- Associated Press - Monday, January 30, 2017

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republican Gov. Chris Sununu refused to take a clear stance on President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel to the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations and suspending the nation’s refugee program.

The New Hampshire governor said Monday he supports strengthening the vetting process for immigrants and that he’s “closely watching” how the order will affect New Hampshire. He said in a statement that immigration is the “fabric” of the country, but made no reference to the refugee suspension or the travel ban that has caused chaos at airports across the country.

“We live in a very dangerous world and I will continue to support the strengthening of the vetting process, as it contributes directly to the safety and security of the people of New Hampshire,” he said in a statement.

Sununu’s office didn’t respond to direct questions about whether he’s been in contact with Manchester airport officials or refugee resettlement organizations.

Sununu’s reaction stands at odds with that of the state’s attorney general, who condemned Trump’s order as unconstitutional and a violation of the principles of democracy and religious freedom. Attorney General Joe Foster was appointed by Sununu’s Democratic predecessor, Maggie Hassan, now a U.S. senator. Foster said he supports the decision of several federal judges to temporarily halt enforcement of Trump’s order.

“Religious liberty has been and always will be a bedrock principle of our country and no President can change that truth,” Foster said in a statement.

New Hampshire’s congressional delegation similarly condemned the order. Hassan joined fellow Democratic members of the homeland security committee Monday in asking for an emergency meeting with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to learn more about the order and how it was crafted. They expressed concern about possible religious tests and the ability of legal permanent residents from the seven countries to enter the United States.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen panned the order’s call to indefinitely halt the acceptance of Syrian refugees. Hassan, who as governor called for a temporary halt on Syrian refugees entering the United States, made no mention of the issue in her initial statement criticizing Trump’s order.

Her office later clarified she does not support an “indefinite ban” on Syrian refugees.

“The Senator believes that we can strengthen the process for all entryways into the country while remaining true to our values and engaged in addressing this humanitarian crisis,” spokeswoman Meira Bernstein said.

Officials at Dartmouth College told students and faculty from the countries listed in the order not to travel outside the U.S. They said they support calls by the Association of American Universities to end the ban as quickly as possible.

At the University of New Hampshire, officials said they were assessing the situation and are committed to the helping the 56 students, faculty and staff affected by the order.

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