Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire have proposed modifying a state law to allow local law enforcement to arrest people who illegally cross the nation’s northern border.
Governor Chris Sununu and Attorney General John Formella reportedly requested the new bill amid increasing illegal entries into the state from Canada.
Under the state’s “current use” law, landowners are given a tax break if they preserve open space or allow public, recreational use of their land. Landowners who open their land are not liable for personal injury or property damage.
Senate President Jeb Bradley’s bill would allow landowners to post “no trespassing except for recreational use” signs. Anyone on the land could be arrested for trespassing – including foreign nationals who enter the United States from Canada. Law enforcement could also arrest people on the land if they are believed to be in violation of a controlled drug act or involved in human trafficking.
“I believe — and I hope that you, as members of the committee, believe — that protecting our northern border to prevent drug smuggling, human trafficking, and illegal entry into our state is important,” Bradley told the state Senate Judiciary Committee, per NHPR.
In 2023, United States Customs and Border Patrol recorded 3.2 million encounters with illegal immigrants at both the nation’s land borders – up from 2.7 million during the previous fiscal year. Of last year’s encounters, 189,402 were recorded at the Nothern land border. This marked not only a significant jump from the 109,535 encounters during fiscal year 2022 but a nearly 7-fold increase from the total number of encounters from fiscal year 2021 – 27,180.
New Hampshire's legislature has taken steps in recent years to manage the state’s growing illegal immigration problem. Officials repeatedly introduced a measure to bar municipalities from adopting sanctuary city policies. The latest introduction in early February bars any government entity in the state from enacting a sanctuary policy and requires local law enforcement to use their best effort to aid in the enforcement of federal immigration law.
“New Hampshire Senate Bill 563, if passed, would ensure that the state does not decay into the same migrant chaos its neighboring state of Massachusetts is struggling with, or for that matter, Maine, whose sanctuary policies are putting its finances on the brink of disaster,” stated the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
According to The Boston Globe, illegal immigration is a top issue for Republicans in New Hampshire. In fact, the issue could be what motivates voters during the presidential election in November.
“The border with Canada became a matter of increasing political debate last year after Governor Chris Sununu launched a $1.4 million task force aimed at strengthening security there, even as civil rights groups criticized the effort, arguing there are no data showing such an effort is needed,” reports the outlet.
The Globe also found, through a poll co-conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University, that approximately half of all voters in New Hampshire consider America’s immigration and border security an “emergency.” Another third of voters called the issue a “major problem.”