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Saturday, June 30, 2012

NH doesn’t have immigration issue

Guest Editorial

In a case of insisting on a solution to a problem that does not appear to exist, House Speaker William O’Brien says police in New Hampshire should be empowered to check the immigration status of anyone they stop for whatever reason.

The imperative from the Mont Vernon Republican came after the U.S. Supreme Court this week upheld one portion of an Arizona law that contains such a provision.

O’Brien told the New Hampshire Union Leader that New Hampshire especially needs such a law because it’s a border state, as is Arizona. He said the high-court decision gives the state “a road map” to Arizona-type legislation here.

Yes, the Granite State shares a 58-mile boundary with Canada, but at no time in memory has there been any proof that the border is porous and that New Hampshire is consequently burdened with illegal immigrant populations.

Indeed, the very absence of such conditions is likely one reason a Republican-controlled House committee earlier this year voted 14-1 to kill a bill that would have required police to demand papers at traffic stops.

Reporting for the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, Republican Rep. David A. Welch, of Kingston, said, “This is not good public policy and will create tensions and mistrust between our minority community and our law enforcement officers.”

In fact, the only thing such a law would be good for would be to improve the already warm and fuzzy relations that O’Brien has with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a right-wing interest group that has flooded the nation with model legislation for all sorts of punitive policies.

Among ALEC’s other priorities, in addition to red-meat persecutions of immigrants, are laws to make it more difficult for some legitimate citizens to vote.

GOP leaders in New Hampshire have insisted without proof that large numbers of people are improperly casting ballots and wrongly influencing elections here; their voter-ID solution, which was gradually softened to accommodate concerns about disenfranchising voters, is now law.

For its part, ALEC has backed away from promoting voter-ID laws after taking flak from its corporate backers, but expect the extremist group to maintain its influence in New Hampshire on other issues should the Republican legislative leadership retain its power in November.

Two years ago at this time, Republicans gave no hint of interest in social policymaking. The GOP leadership then talked about one thing only: fiscal reform.

Once in power, it went to work on unions, education, voters, environmental regulation, gun laws, women’s health and so on. Now, taking O’Brien’s cue, it’ll be going after immigrants without a shred of material evidence why.

At least this time the inclination is in the open before Election Day, meaning that candidates for office should be prepared to share their views on the matter.

– The Keene Sentinel