CONCORD — A bill to create a study commission on the relationship between state and federal immigration laws is running into opposition from the groups that would be recruited to serve on the commission, if the bill becomes law.
The ACLU-NH, American Friends Service Committee, and N.H. Council of Churches have called on the state Senate to reject SB 317, a bill that as initially filed would require local police to cooperate in federal immigration enforcement and in detentions of immigrants.
The bill is scheduled for a Senate floor vote Thursday.
Instead of voting to defeat the bill, the Senate Judiciary Committee proposed an amendment that would create the Immigration Study Commission.
According to the amendment, participants in the study committee would include individuals designated by the ACLU-NH, AFSC, and the Council of Churches. Those three groups issued a joint statement on Tuesday saying they want nothing to do with such a commission.
“We staunchly oppose Senate Bill 317, both as originally proposed and now with the amendment to turn the bill into a study commission,” according to the statement. “None of our organizations were asked ahead of time if we were willing to participate in the proposed study commission, and none have any intention of doing so.”
The statement was issued by Devon Chaffee, the executive director for the ACLU-NH; Arnie Alpert, the New Hampshire co-director of AFSC; and the Rev. Jason Wells, the executive director of the N.H. Council of Churches.
The members of the commission would also include representatives of the governor, House, Senate, law enforcement, key state agencies and the Business and Industry Association, among others.
The charge to the commission is to “study the relationship between federal and state immigration laws. The commission shall also study ways to incentivize legal immigration to alleviate New Hampshire’s workforce challenges,” according to the legislation.
If the bill becomes law, the commission would have to issue a report by Nov. 1.
The Democratically controlled House in late February defeated a similar bill, HB 232, called the “Anti-Sanctuary Act.”
If passed, it would have required all state and local governments to comply with federal immigration detainer requests, and would prohibit local or state policies that “restrict or discourage the enforcement of federal immigration law.” It was defeated, 211-132.