As a bill banning sanctuary cities in New Hampshire passed a key state House committee, Democratic candidate for governor Joyce Craig continues to dodge questions about her stance on the policy, insisting no such communities exist in the Granite State.

In an April 15, 2024, video obtained by NHJournal, the former Manchester mayor is asked about Republican gubernatorial candidate Kelly Ayotte “attacking you for supporting sanctuary cities. Would you mind clearing up your stance on them?”

“The thing in New Hampshire is, we’re not a sanctuary state, and there are no sanctuary cities,” Craig responded. “So they’re using Republican talking points to attack me.”



Craig went on to describe her viewpoint as “making our state welcoming for every single resident who lives here,” without ever stating a position on sanctuary policies such as forbidding local police from participating in immigration enforcement.

But the city of Lebanon passed a sanctuary city ordinance by popular vote in 2020. And according to New Hampshire Public Radio, police departments in “Manchester, Hollis, Hudson, and Merrimack have supported so-called ‘sanctuary’ policies in the past.”

Last year, Craig testified against a bill banning sanctuary cities, saying that fulfilling requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold illegal immigrants until federal authorities can pick them up would undermine the work of the city’s police department to foster a relationship of trust with leaders of minority communities.

Craig has declined more than a dozen requests for comment from NHJournal about whether she would support the sanctuary policies practiced in Massachusetts, whose Democratic Gov. Maura Healey has endorsed Craig’s candidacy. In the Bay State, the Democratic-controlled legislature has budgeted about $900 million to pay for the costs of providing for illegal immigrants and is preparing to budget an additional $900 million for next fiscal year.

There have also been multiple high-profile sexual assaults, at least two involving minors, in which those charged with the crime are in the U.S. illegally. At least one alleged child rapist was released when a Massachusetts judge, following the state’s sanctuary policies, released him before ICE could detain him.

The Ayotte campaign has been posting a running tally on social media to call out Craig’s silence on the sanctuary city issue.

“Joyce Craig can dodge these questions all she wants, but she can’t hide the truth — Craig supports dangerous sanctuary policies and would bring the Massachusetts illegal immigrant crisis to our communities,” Ayotte said in a statement to NHJournal. “I will never allow them to turn our state into a sanctuary for criminals, and I will never let them MASS up New Hampshire.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, a sanctuary city ban that passed the state Senate, SB563, was amended and passed out of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee in a bipartisan 11-9 vote. Rep. Jonah Wheeler (D-Peterborough) joined the 10 Republicans on the committee supporting the bill.

The amended version makes it clear that local law enforcement cannot investigate or inquire about a person’s immigration status. At the same time, if they discover that someone they’ve arrested is in the U.S. illegally, they may notify ICE. If a police department receives an ICE detainer request and refuses to honor it, it would have to report that decision to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Granite State Democrats, including Craig’s primary opponent Executive ,Councilor Cinde Warmington, have doubled down on their opposition to increased immigration enforcement, even as the number of migrants flooding across the border has set new records.

The word “welcoming” is often used as a euphemism for sanctuary policies, and there is a well-funded, national “welcoming” movement urging communities to sign pledges discouraging or outright banning the enforcement of immigration law within their boundaries.

Craig says her goal is to “welcome and celebrate the diversity of our city and our state, which I feel very strongly about.”