NH Senate passes ‘anti-sanctuary’ bill

HANNAH SCHROEDER / Keene Sentinel fileNH State House

HANNAH SCHROEDER / Keene Sentinel fileNH State House HANNAH SCHROEDER / Keene Sentinel file

By RICK GREEN

The Keene Sentinel

Published: 03-11-2024 3:43 PM

In a partisan vote, the Republican-controlled N.H. Senate on Thursday passed, 14-10, a bill that would prohibit state and local governments from adopting policies that prohibit or impede enforcement of federal immigration law.

Opponents of Senate Bill 563 say it is unnecessary, and will only serve to demonize immigrant communities. Advocates say the measure would help ensure federal law enforcement efforts against criminals are not thwarted by sanctuary policies aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants.

N.H. Sen. William Gannon, R-Sandown, prime sponsor of the bill, said it seeks to ensure state and local law enforcement comply with federal immigration agency requests to detain people named in federal arrest warrants.

“The most important duty of a country and a state is to protect its citizens and keep them safe,” Gannon said in the Senate Chamber before the vote. “If we need to vet the mostly good immigrants from foreign countries from the not so good, that’s what we need to do.”

Law enforcement representatives, church officials, the American Civil Liberties Union-New Hampshire, the N.H. Municipal Association and immigrant rights advocates were among those who testified against the bill during an earlier public hearing.

Sen. Rebecca Whitley, D-Hopkinton, said the bill would not promote public safety.

“A bill like this is so deeply disappointing to me,” she said. “Disappointing, because instead of focusing on solutions, this bill only serves to make political hay of national rhetoric at the expense of valued members of our community.”

The N.H. House will eventually schedule a vote on the bill.

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Last year, the Senate passed a similar bill, which was subsequently defeated in the House.

Rick Green can be reached at RGreen@KeeneSentinel.com or 603-355-8567These articles are being shared by partners in The Granite State News Collaborative. For more information visit collaborativenh.org.