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Bill criticized for “raising fear within immigrant communities”

The New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is expected to soon vote on H.B.1266, which opponents say would jeopardize the relationship between immigrant communities and local law enforcement.

“This bill would undo almost 20 years of work that we have done to foster trust in our police department,” said Eva Castillo, director of the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, one of the nearly ten people testifying against the bill at last week’s hearing.

Representative Tony Piemonte, Republican of Rockingham, sponsor of H.B. 1266, said illegal immigration jeopardizes New Hampshire’s safety and drains its resources.

The bill if made into law, would make it illegal for state or local governments not to adopt or enforce federal immigration laws; undocumented immigrants could be reported to Immigration and Customs Enforcement by police.

Representative Maria Perez, Democrat of Milford, is opposed to the bill expressing frustration at “the broken immigration system” and the language used by Shari Rendall, director of state and local engagement at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a supporter of H.B. 1266.

“It will prohibit jurisdictions from employing dangerous policies that provide a safe haven or sanctuary inwhich illegal aliens can live or work without fear of apprehension,” said Rendall.

FAIR is designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a a hate group.

“It is unnecessary, confusing, and vague,” said Maggie Fogarty from the American Friends Service Committee. “If enacted H.B. 1266 would trigger the risk of increased racial and ethnic profiling, animosity, and distrust of those perceived to be immigrants.” Fogarty says people of color will be targeted by the bill.

Six percent of New Hampshire residents are immigrants, while 8 percent of residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent, according to the American Immigration Council. In 2018, more than 83-thousand immigrants comprised 6 percent of the state’s population.

The percent of the Granite State’s population identifying themselves as Hispanic-Latino increased by more than 60-percent (2010 Vs. 2020), and the population remains at 4.3 percent, reports the U.S. Census.

Immigration advocates are asking people against the H.B. 1266 to share their testimony online.

Cover Photo by Mitchel Lensink on Unsplash

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