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Customs Border Patrol Checkpoints Worry NH Residents, Tourists

Customs Border Patrol checkpoints that have sprung up in New Hampshire are slowing traffic and alarming some people. (Chris Dag/Flickr)
Customs Border Patrol checkpoints that have sprung up in New Hampshire are slowing traffic and alarming some people. (Chris Dag/Flickr)
June 25, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. – Some New Hampshire residents and tourists hiking in the White Mountains or traveling on Concord Coach Lines say they're angry and worried after being confronted by U.S. Customs Border Patrol agents on recent holiday weekends.

The checkpoints weren't at the Canadian border, but deep inside New Hampshire, near some larger cities and tourist destinations.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire says it has learned four more checkpoints are planned.

Legal Director Gilles Bissonnette says the checkpoints raise strong concerns about policies that may be tantamount to a police state.

"We here in New Hampshire pride ourselves on our 'live free or die' philosophy, and these checkpoints are totally contrary to that libertarian spirit that we have in the state,” he stresses. “And people don't like checkpoints – and they shouldn't."

The Border Patrol has the legal right to operate within 100 miles of the U.S. border. Checkpoints set up in the Granite State over Father's Day and Memorial Day weekends resulted in the arrests of 22 undocumented immigrants.

The ACLU says videos show that agents at the checkpoints told motorists if they didn't respond to questions, they'd be detained indefinitely.

Bissonnette says the checkpoints create a forced interaction between individuals and law enforcement, compelling people to respond to interrogation when there's no evidence of criminal activity. He says the tactic is designed to coerce people to waive their rights.

"Here you have border patrol detaining hundreds, if not thousands of individuals without any suspicion that they had committed a crime,” he states. “These experiences really fly in the face of what it means to live in a free society, where you don't have to answer to federal agents as you're going about your personal business."

People who've been stopped report being asked about their immigration status and in some cases, searched for drugs.

In light of the situation on the U.S./Mexico border, the ACLU of New Hampshire says it is also watching to see whether federal policies are causing family separations across the state.

Linda Barr, Public News Service - NH