Senate passes ban on sanctuary policies

Mar. 16—CONCORD — A ban on communities adopting "sanctuary city" policies regarding local police contact with illegal immigrants initially cleared the state Senate along partisan lines Thursday.

Supporters said the rising number of illegal border crossings along the Canadian border calls out for this reform (SB 132).

"Without New Hampshire law enforcement involvement, we are going to miss the next 911 terrorist," said Sen. Bill Gannon, R-Sandown and the bill's author.

Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy of Manchester said this would undo the relationships that local police already have with legal immigrant advocates in their communities.

"This bill is the antithesis of local control because it tells our cities and towns that the state knows better than them as to how they work with their local immigration population," Soucy said.

A 14-10 vote with only Senate Republican support sent this measure to the Senate Finance Committee.

Sen. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem, said he amended the bill so it applies only to someone in this country illegally who local or state police have arrested or put into custody for a crime committed in New Hampshire.

This also gives law enforcement here the discretion on a case-by-case basis to decline to cooperate with federal immigration officials, he said.

"You just can't forbid them if they decide they want to cooperate," Abbas said of the bill.

Senate Majority Leader Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said illegal border crossings from Canada into New Hampshire and neighboring states are up more than 1,000% compared to two years ago.

"Let's be serious about our border crisis," Carson said.

Opponents said this is a state mandate that could make all New Hampshire taxpayers pay to cover the costs of local law enforcement in these matters.

Sen. Becky Whitley, D-Hopkinton, said only last year the Republican-led Legislature passed a law refusing to let local and state law enforcement cooperate with federal officials regarding new gun control laws or presidential executive orders.