Committee kills immigration bill

Last modified: 2/8/2012 12:00:00 AM
A bill that would require police officers in New Hampshire to check the immigration status of any people they arrest has drawn the ire of opponents who say it would encourage racial profiling, and a legislative panel committee voted overwhelmingly yesterday to kill the measure.

Opponents say the bill would make the police more ready to arrest people who 'looked foreign' in order to check their immigration status. Others voiced concerns the bill would harm police relations with the Hispanic community and make illegal immigrants less likely to report a crime.

The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 14-1 to recommend killing the bill after holding a hearing on it.

Manchester resident Eva Castillo told the committee that New Hampshire Hispanics already knew where they were more likely to be stopped in the state, and some police officers would use the proposed bill to further racially profile Hispanics.

'This is going to destroy the efforts of the police to reach out to the community. This is going to stop the efforts of the police to keep our community safe. It's going to make a lot of people vulnerable to bad people; 'bad' meaning officers also,' she said.

State police Captain David Parenteau opposed the bill on behalf of the Department of Safety. He said checking every person whom the police arrest would be burdensome to both the police and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials covering the state. Nine times out of 10, ICE officials will not get involved if a person found to be in the state illegally has not committed a crime, he said.

The lone vote against killing the bill was Republican Rep. Phil Greazzo from Manchester who said the bill had merit, and he did not believe the checks would be a burden.

'When I get pulled over they check to see if I have any warrants, any tickets, and that's not even being arrested,' Greazzo said.

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