CONCORD — New Hampshire cities and towns that want to adopt sanctuary city policies are free to do so, now that the House has defeated a Republican-sponsored bill to ban the practice in the Granite State.

The “Anti-Sanctuary Act,” (HB 232) if passed, would have required all state and local governments to comply with federal immigration detainer requests.

The bill also prohibits any local or state policies that “restrict or discourage the enforcement of federal immigration law.” It was defeated, 211-132.

“Detainer requests are not arrest warrants,” said Rep. Jim Maggiore, D-North Hampton. “Persons held without probable cause or arrested due to possible racial profiling expose the local agency and municipality to potentially costly legal liability.”

He said the bill strips local controls and puts upward pressure on local budgets, begets racial profiling and undermines police and community relations.

Rep. James Belanger, R-Hollis, said he first thought there were no sanctuary cities in New Hampshire, then learned differently. “Law enforcement should enforce the laws, no matter whose laws they are,” he said.

A national anti-immigration group has identified Cheshire County and five New Hampshire municipalities as providing sanctuary for illegal immigrants, including Deerfield, Harrisville, Dublin and Lyme.

Maggiore cited Nashua, Manchester, Laconia, Keene and Lancaster as communities that would be affected by the bill.

State police are currently evaluating their policy on cooperation with federal immigration authorities, according to Col. Christopher Wagner.

“It is a very important subject matter for us,” he said in a recent interview. “We have been working tirelessly on that policy, and a training component that goes along with that.”

Wagner said state police are working with the office of Attorney General and the ACLU on the project.

“It’s a complicated matter, and we want to make sure we get it right,” he said. “I am confident to say that within the next few weeks, we will have a final policy that we will be issuing with respect to fair and impartial policing as it relates to immigration status or all things immigration.”

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