CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Immigrant rights activists gave members of a legislative committee plenty of reasons to defeat a resolution endorsing Arizona’s repressive immigration law at a State House hearing this morning.
The badly worded resolution attempted to link Arizona’s immigration law to state obligations to protect the safety and job security of New Hampshire citizens. In addition to calling on the state “to protect its citizens from illegal immigrants,” the resolution says “the state of New Hampshire fully supports the state of Arizona’s immigration law.”
The resolution “promotes division, intolerance, and hatred,” said Ana Herrero, a Webster resident who described her service in the US Navy, her pride at becoming a US citizen, and her apprehension that she would be one of those targeted, based on her surname and skin color, if an Arizona-type immigration law were in force in New Hampshire
The resolution, HCR 2, was introduced by Rep. Bruce Marcus of Peterborough, who did not attend the hearing. It is being considered by the Committee on State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs.
In addition to Herrera, opponents included Eva Castillo of the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, Cathy Chesley of Catholic Charities, Clair Ebel of the NH Civil Liberties Union, Barbara French representing the United Church of Christ, Rep. Frances Potter of Concord, Alejandro Urrutia, and several others.
Although the resolution did not indicate which specific Arizona law was supposedly worthy of endorsement and imitation, most speakers assumed it referred to SB 1070, which passed in 2010 and is currently the subject of six lawsuits. Christian Urrutia, a recent law school graduate, outlined a variety of reasons why a federal court has placed an injunction on implementation of major provisions of SB 1070 due to a variety of constitutional flaws.
Long-time immigrants’ rights activist Judy Elliott, of Canterbury, answered numerous questions from legislators about her contention that the Arizona law would promote discriminatory profiling, a problem some members of the Committee appeared prepared to disregard.
Gibran Ortiz, a Mexican immigrant, explained that he is studying to become a police officer and would prefer to spend his time protecting his community from dangerous crime, not hounding immigrants for their papers.
Immigration lawyer George Bruno, former US Ambassador to Belize, said SB 1070’s provisions on harboring illegal aliens would make criminals out of priests and social workers. “The Arizona model is not the path New Hampshire should travel,” he said.
I tried to explain to the committee members that the resolution would inspire fear of immigrants, who are our neighbors, co-workers, employers, and customers. If New Hampshire were to follow Arizona’s example, I said, the state would have to change its motto from “Live Free or Die” to “Show Me Your Papers.”
Only one person, a Nashua resident, spoke in favor.
HCR 2 has been referred to a sub-committee, which will meet next Tuesday. Its deliberation will inform a full committee vote, which would then become the basis for consideration by the full 400-member House of Representatives.
The legislature expects to review more than 800 bills in the legislative session that began a week ago. So far, the text of only 194 of them has been made public. Whether legislation modeled on SB 1070 is on its way remains to be seen.