Lawsuit challenges immigration checkpoints on I-93

  • A U.S. Border Patrol agent checks a car on the I-93 southbound lane on Wednesday, September 28, 2017 south of the Route 175 exit south of Lincoln. Geoff Forester

Published: 4/9/2021 5:22:38 PM

A lawsuit will go forward with a  challenge against immigration checkpoints on I-93 in New Hampshire and elsewhere in New England after a federal district court rejected attempts to end it.

In its decision announced Thursday, U.S. District Court in Concord rejected a motion by Customs and Border Protection to dismiss the case.

ACLU affiliates in New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont filed this federal lawsuit in August saying border patrol checkpoints that have taken place several times on I-93 in the town of Woodstock and elsewhere in northern New England are an unconstitutional use of immigration checkpoints to search and seize people.

Under federal regulations, Border Patrol agents are permitted to stage checkpoints within 100 miles of the international border, including the ocean – an area that covers all of New Hampshire. Courts have upheld the constitutionality of inland checkpoints as long as they can be proven effective at detaining people who have crossed the border illegally, and don’t unduly burden citizens. 

In separate action the ACLU challenged 16 arrests made during the August 2017 checkpoint in Woodstock, all involving violation-level offense of possessing small amounts of drugs. In 2018, the Plymouth Circuit Court concluded that “the primary purpose of the (checkpoint) was detection and seizure of drugs,” making it “unconstitutional under both state and federal law.” All charges were dismissed.

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