Safety Commissioner Quinn Wants Immigration Power for State Police

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In center, Safety Commissioner Bob Quinn is sworn in before subcommittee testimony in DC Tuesday.


Department of Safety Commissioner Robert Quinn wants New Hampshire State Police deputized to patrol the northern border against illegal immigration, even though he’s unable to say how many people are crossing into the Granite State.

Quinn went to Capitol Hill Tuesday to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations, and Accountability about the apparently dire situation at the crossing from Canada into New Hampshire, a stretch of woods around Pittsburg.

“We’re waiting for the crisis to come to New Hampshire,” Quinn said.

Quinn wants President Joe Biden’s Administration to deputize New Hampshire State Police through a Section 287 agreement, as has been done in other parts of the country. The Biden Administration has a moratorium on adding new 287 agreements.

Drugs and victims of human trafficking are coming over the border from Canada, according to Customs and Border Patrol, but mostly into New York and Vermont. The agency reports a 843 percent increase in illegal crossing in the last few months in the Swanton Sector of the border in Vermont. There are no firm numbers about the people crossing the border in New Hampshire, however, and Quinn’s office is unable to provide any statistics to

“The Department of Safety does not collect data on illegal border crossings into the United States,” said Tyler Dumont, DOS spokesman.

The United States Customs and Border Patrol media representatives could not be reached. 

Chris Wellington, a retired New Hampshire lawyer, said turning State Police into immigration agents would be a disaster for New Hampshire law enforcement, and immigrant communities throughout the state.

“This could be really bad for New Hampshire, and really bad for people perceived to be immigrants,” Wellington said.

Law enforcement agencies had been making strides in recent years reaching out to immigrant communities, in part by not acting as federal agents, she said. People in immigrant communities who fear they might get in trouble because of their immigration status could be less likely to seek police help, and be less likely to cooperate with police, putting a chill on relations.

“We see local and state law enforcement as having obligations to the whole community and this could be really divisive,” Wellington said.

The state is already part of patrolling the 51-mile stretch of woods along with CPB under Operation Stonegarden, and have received millions in federal funding for this initiative over the years. The funding was cut this year by the Biden Administration, resulting in a loss of overtime and the inability to buy ATVs for the patrol, according to Quinn.

New Hampshire has no power to enforce immigration laws, but Gov. Chris Sununu sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayrokas this month pushing for a new 287 agreement for New Hampshire and full funding for Operation Stonegarden. Sununu announced a $1.4 million state initiative to secure the border under a new Northern Border Alliance Program. 

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