Senate approves ban on sanctuary city policies


Kevin Landrigan, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester
Thu, March 30, 2023 at 6:58 PM EDT

Mar. 30—CONCORD — The state Senate approved a ban on communities adopting "sanctuary city" policies Thursday following a bitter and partisan debate over whether it was anti-immigrant.

Senate Republicans said an increase of illegal crossings at the northern border cry out for efforts to block a city or town from adopting an ordinance that would keep local police from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

The ban would apply to those in this country illegally who local or state police have arrested or put into custody for a crime committed in New Hampshire.

"This is a recognition that we are starting to have a real problem on our north border," said Senate Majority Leader Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry.

Sen. Carrie Gendreau, R-Littleton, said a Pittsburg farmer at the Canadian border helped federal authorities detain an undocumented person who brought illegal drugs into this state.

"They are coming across, there is not protection. I do not support sanctuary cities and think we need to have a better and stronger border patrol," Gendreau said.

Sen Rebecca Perkins-Kwoka, D-Portsmouth, charged the GOP-led Senate was bullied into adopting this bill by the Federation Against Illegal Immigration, a national group the liberal Southern Law Poverty Center said has ties to white supremacists.

Perkins-Kwoka said the legislation only encourages the "hate speech" incidents seen recently in Portsmouth, Goffstown and other communities.

"It is really bothersome to continually hear this anti-immigration retort," she said.
"We are entertaining legislation that is brought by groups that are bringing rhetoric in a very harmful way."

The Senate passed the bill (SB 132) over to the House, 13-10, with all Republicans in support, all Democrats in opposition.

Senate Democrats condemned the vote in a joint statement.

"This dangerous and disappointing decision to stand with a hate group instead of our law enforcement community signals that Senate Republicans do not trust local law enforcement officers and think that they know best," it said.

Sen. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem, said that as a proud Arab-American he resented the claim socially conservative groups influenced the work he has done on this issue in recent years.

"Keep saying that all you want. I wrote it, not a white supremacist group," Abbas said of amendments he made to narrow the scope of this bill.

"I won't consult with them because frankly I don't think they want to consult with me."

Gov. Chris Sununu, who is considering a GOP run for president, proposed in his budget spending $1.4 million in federal grants to beef up state and local law enforcement at the Canadian border.

The New Hampshire Municipal Association and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester oppose this bill along with the Americans for Civil Liberties Union and immigrant advocacy groups.

"Who are you doing bidding for?" Whitley asked rhetorically.

Sen. Kevin Avard, R-Nashua, said many GOP senators have intervened to help immigrants deal with the lengthy and bureaucratic process to become U.S. citizens.

"We need reform, we need to make it easier for people to do it the legal way but nobody is discriminating against race in this room and I am offended by that," Avard said.

Senate Democratic Leader Donna Soucy of Manchester said she was not aware of a single police department asked to cooperate with federal immigration agents that has refused the request.

"This is about what our folks at the local level that we hire and trust and we work with, this is about their decision-making," Soucy said.