CONCORD — New Hampshire immigrants said the Arizona immigration law, part of which survived a Supreme Court challenge Monday, is another sign of animosity against immigrants.
“It just breaks my heart,” said Ana Ford, a native of Nicaragua who is an American citizen and served in the U.S. Navy. “It's gotten to the point where it's OK to hate immigrants, to want them out of the country.”
“It's one more tool to use against immigrants,” said Eva Castillo, who heads up the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigration and Refugees.
Castillo and Ford took part in a last-minute rally at the State House Monday evening.
Speakers said they were happy that three provisions of the Arizona law were declared unconstitutional. But they bemoaned the survival of the “show us your papers” provision, which requires Arizona police to check the immigration status of people they encounter for crimes or traffic offenses.
“It raises the specter of Nazi Germany,” said Claire Ebel, a longtime civil rights activist. Ebel said New Hampshire residents can legally refuse to provide identification to a police officer, unless they are driving a motor vehicle.
Enrique Mesa, chairman of the Governor's Commission on Latino Affairs and an immigration lawyer, said New Hampshire police already have the ability to ask for papers under provisions of Secure Communities, which went into effect in May.
But the key to preventing indiscriminate requests is to dissuade police from racial profiling, Mesa said. He said his agency has received promises from police in Manchester, Nashua, Dover and Hudson, as well as state police, that their officers will not engage in racial profiling.
“I think we've done a good job of stamping out racial profiling,” he said.
But the Rev. Joseph Gurdak, pastor of St. Anne-St. Augustin Church in Manchester, said he heard from a woman Sunday whose husband was arrested when police pulled over the car he was riding in.
He had no identification and is now sitting in Valley Street jail.
“Our laws are schizophrenic,” he said, adding that President Obama says immigrants can stay in the country, but local police arrest them without cause.
“We want to stop the suffering,” Gurdak said.