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Two proposed bills could limit work, travel opportunities in NH for undocumented immigrants

Diniz and Travis are a couple that has considered moving to Massachusetts, where, as of this summer, undocumented people and asylum seekers are allowed to get a driver’s license. But that would mean leaving the home and life they’ve built in New Hampshire.
Gabriela Lozada
/
NHPR
Diniz and Travis are a couple that has considered moving to Massachusetts, where, as of this summer, undocumented people and asylum seekers are allowed to get a driver’s license. But that would mean leaving the home and life they’ve built in New Hampshire.

Several Republican legislators are proposing bills that would limit undocumented immigrants' access to work and mobility in New Hampshire.

The first bill comes from seven state senators who are pushing to prohibit the use of out-of-state driver’s licenses issued specifically for undocumented immigrants. Senate Bill 358 aims to push back on a law passed in Massachusetts earlier this year that allows undocumented immigrants to drive lawfully in that state, issuing them licenses that don’t show their immigration status.

Rhode Island, Vermont and Connecticut have also passed similar legislation.

If the New Hampshire bill were to pass, it would be unlawful for an undocumented immigrant who lives in Massachusetts or Vermont to drive in New Hampshire, and that person would face a class B misdemeanor. The proposal would require the Division of Motor Vehicles to keep an updated list on their website of out-of-state class licenses that are invalid in New Hampshire. A state employee would be paid up to $66,000 to do that work.

In New Hampshire, undocumented residents can't get a driver’s license. Legislation to change that has been introduced six times in the House of Representatives, but has been tabled for lack of support.

Republican representatives want to revive the use of E-verify

In New Hampshire when a new employee is hired, the employer has no obligation to report that person's immigration status to any government agency. A group of representatives aims to change that with a bill similar to one that failed to pass two years ago.

House Bill 1110 is supported by six Republican legislators. The bill says employers with 25 or more employees will have to use E-verify, a system that serves to match a person’s identity with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Service database.

E-verify is used in at least 22 states and prevents employers from hiring people who are not eligible to work lawfully in the U.S without a resident card, citizenship, or a working visa.

A similar bill, also sponsored by Republican representatives, was tabled in the 2022 legislative session. At the time, advocates said the bill was discriminatory and questioned the accuracy of the system, noting it could throw false results that could wrongfully mark a worker as undocumented.

Gabriela Lozada is a Report for America corps member. Her focus is on Latinx community with original reporting done in Spanish for ¿Qué hay de Nuevo NH?.