Checkpoint held on I-93 in Woodstock for second time this yearBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent
June 16. 2018 12:09AM
WOODSTOCK — For the second time this year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents stopped southbound traffic on Interstate 93 for an immigration checkpoint.
The checkpoint, just before Exit 30, had traffic backed up at 1:30 p.m. for a quarter mile.
The agency most recently operated a checkpoint in the same area during the Memorial Day weekend.
In those stops, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents assigned to the Swanton Sector arrested 17 alleged illegal immigrants and seized drug paraphernalia and small amounts of marijuana, hash oil and THC vape oil from others. Local police did not participate in the Memorial Day enforcement and the Border Patrol made no mention of anyone being charged with drug crimes.
Last year, Woodstock police participated in an August checkpoint alongside the CBP. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested 25 illegal immigrants and Woodstock police made 16 arrests after a CBP dog sniffed out small amounts of mostly marijuana.
A judge, acting on a motion brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, later suppressed all the evidence in those drug arrests, ruling that the searches violated the New Hampshire Constitution.
Giles Bissonnette, the legal director of the ACLU-NH, has said CBP is free to ask if someone is in the United States lawfully, but no one is required to answer such a question.
If a driver and passengers say they are citizens, the Border Patrol should let them go, according to Bissonnette. If someone refuses to answer, CBP can detain them for “a limited period of time” to determine their status, he said.
On May 31, the Union Leader reported that New Hampshire State Police, which is not assisting Customs and Border Protection with the checkpoints, was informed by the agency that it planned to conduct six checkpoints in 2018.
“U.S. Border Patrol Swanton Sector is conducting checkpoint operations on I-93 in New Hampshire today,” said Stephanie Malin, Customs and Border Protection public affairs specialist for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. “The timing, locations and frequency of our tactical immigration checkpoints are law-enforcement sensitive, and obviously due to operational security, checkpoint details are not something that we would publicly disclose.”
Bissonnette, in an email Friday, said the checkpoints are wrong and that state officials should demand that Customs and Border Protection stop them immediately.
“People should not have to answer to federal agents as they go about their personal business,” he said. “As a state committed to be welcoming to all people, particularly at the start of tourism season, these checkpoints send the wrong message to people who want to visit our beautiful state.”