CONCORD, N.H. — A bill that would require police 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 voted Tuesday to kill the measure.

Opponents say the bill would make police more ready to arrest people who “looked foreign” in order to check their immigration status. Others voiced concerns that the bill would harm police relations with the Hispanic community and make illegal immigrants less likely to even 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 Capt. David Parenteau opposed the bill on behalf of the Department of Safety. He said checking every person whom police arrest would be burdensome to both 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 Rep. Phil Greazzo, who said the bill had merit and 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,” said Greazzo, R-Manchester.

The hearing comes a week after the House passed a resolution to support Arizona’s “right to protect its borders and citizens” in a reference to a 2010 Arizona law currently being argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The House bill resembles the Arizona law, but it requires blanket immigration checks, whereas Arizona also gave police discretionary powers. Similar laws were passed in Alabama, Georgia, Utah and South Carolina.

Critics said the bill was just the latest version of anti-immigration legislation that was first proposed in 2006, after New Ipswich and Hudson police chiefs used trespassing laws in 2005 to arrest undocumented immigrants.

Although he said the defeat of the “more flagrant” immigration bills in that time provided evidence that New Hampshire was not following in Arizona or Alabama’s footsteps, Arnie Alpert of the American Friends Service Committee said the bills contribute to an atmosphere of mistrust.

The House will vote on the bill next, and it will likely be killed according to the committee recommendation.


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