Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.) took aim at Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s past support for "sanctuary cities," which ignore federal immigration laws.
Ayotte, an incumbent Republican, said that local policies that defy federal law threatens the safety of the general public.
"I believe we should enforce our laws, and I believe that we shouldn’t have sanctuary cities and that we should allow local law enforcement to cooperate with federal law enforcement, because it’s important," Ayotte told a New Hampshire radio host on Tuesday.
She pointed to a 2008 state Senate vote from Hassan, which helped kill a bill designed to eliminate sanctuary cities in the state. The legislation would have mandated that "New Hampshire and its political subdivisions shall not serve as a sanctuary for illegal aliens and requires state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration laws to the extent authorized by federal law." The bill failed to pass in a 13-10 vote.
"The governor, when she was a state senator, actually voted to kill a bill that would have prohibited New Hampshire from having sanctuary cities, so it appears she’s on the other side of this issue from me," Ayotte said.
Hassan did not respond to request for comment.
The New Hampshire State Republican Party had equally harsh words for Hassan on Tuesday.
"Governor Hassan has demonstrated that she is willing to put her political considerations ahead of public safety concerns by opposing legislation that would penalize sanctuary cities," said party chairman Jennifer Horn said in a release.
"When illegal immigrants commit violent crimes in our country, they need to be arrested and immediately deported. Local officials should not provide these convicted criminals with a safe haven by promoting sanctuary city policies that ignore federal laws. Governor Hassan’s support for sanctuary cities shows how extreme and out-of-touch her views are with New Hampshire’s commonsense values."
Ayotte raised the issue as the Senate took up the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act, which would have cracked down on safe havens for illegal immigrants. Sanctuary cities have faced increasing scrutiny after an illegal immigrant, who had previously been deported seven times, shot and killed 32-year-old Kate Steinle in San Francisco, a sanctuary city. Steinle’s family has since spoken out against sanctuary cities and policies that allow illegal immigrants, even those with previous criminal records, to remain in the United States.
"Unfortunately due to disjointed laws and basic incompetence on many levels, the U.S. has suffered a self-inflicted wound in the murder of our daughter by the hand of a person that should have never been on the streets of this country," her father, Jim Steinle, told the Senate Judiciary Committee in July.
Senate Democrats blocked the Stop Sanctuary Policies and Protect Americans Act on Tuesday. The bill received 54 votes, but needed 60 to pass. Ayotte said that the Senate should make sure that local governments must enforce federal laws.
"This isn’t something we want in New Hampshire. … We need to be able to enforce our laws, and different places shouldn’t decide if they want to enforce them or not," she said.