With national polls showing the border has become a top political issue in our country and our state, there has been a rush from politicians seeking reelection to take any action that they can to look tough. One line of thinking among state legislatures, given the Biden administration’s refusal to do anything to close the southern border, is that the states should act where the feds have not. In many cases, this has produced positive results to mitigate the disaster that President Joe Biden has created. However, it is very important that these legislatures take extra caution to ensure that they aren’t unintentionally giving away the rights of the states or creating opportunities for those who want to take away our constitutionally protected rights.

Here in New Hampshire, I am very concerned about one such piece of legislation. SB 563 attempts to prevent municipalities from ignoring federal detainer requests for suspected illegal aliens. However, this legislation goes much further in what it requires of local law enforcement; in some cases, potentially leading to the diminishing of our Second Amendment rights.

Let me explain. SB 563 requires that “a law enforcement agency shall use best efforts to support the enforcement of federal immigration law.” This is a strongly worded mandate on local law enforcement and municipalities with plenty of room for interpretation from those with bad intentions. “Federal immigration law” is a voluminous library of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of laws, administrative rules, executive orders, and court rulings. It includes both good and bad laws that have been passed or adopted over the years and will include any new laws or orders coming down from Washington in the coming years.

For me, nothing is scarier than binding New Hampshire officials to enforce laws passed by Washington politicians. Under this bill, as  written, your local town police department would be mandated to enforce any executive order that President Biden (or President Kamala Harris) issues under an immigration statute. This could be any number of things – let your imagination run wild!

One equally frightening scenario involves the enforcement of immigration law that is already on the books. Under 18 U.S.C. 922(y)(2), an illegal alien may not purchase a firearm. SB 563 would require local officials to enforce this law. What would that look like? For example, if someone is legally open-carrying, could a law enforcement official require you to provide proof of citizenship? Could they confiscate your firearm until you can provide a birth certificate? This may sound far-fetched but don’t put it past the progressives on the city councils of New Hampshire’s more liberal cities, who have absolutely no respect for the Constitution or our rights protected in it, to require this of their departments.

During my last term in the state House, I sponsored a bill, HB 1178, that held that the state of New Hampshire would not enforce any federal gun control executive orders. This bill was signed into law in 2022. If SB 563 is enacted, it would put these two statutes into direct conflict when a Democrat president inevitably creates an executive order forcing gun control onto the states. For this reason alone, I could have never supported this bill when I was in the House.

I personally am not a fan of any legislation that mandates a state or local entity to be a subordinate of the federal government. This bill may have been drafted with the best of intentions, but the constitutional and liberty questions are so simply too many to ignore. Yes, we need to close our southern border and do more to protect our nation from the drugs and criminals that are coming across, but we cannot do that at the expense of our rights as citizens.