The most recent US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) immigration checkpoints conducted over this past weekend along I-93 in New Hampshire are an embarrassment to our state and violated the Fourth Amendment. These latest checkpoints coincided with Laconia Bike Week and came just a couple weeks after the recent Memorial Day checkpoint. It is our understating that CBP intends to conduct more checkpoints in New Hampshire – possibly 4 – over the remainder of this year. For a state that prides itself on being welcoming to all, these checkpoints tell a very different story, one of discrimination and dismissal of our constitutional rights and values.
Based on videos of the checkpoint recorded by motorists, the way CBP is conducting these checkpoints is deeply disturbing, coercive, and unconstitutional. The CBP told motorists that they were “required” to answer their questions. This is inaccurate. All individuals going through these checkpoints have the right to say absolutely nothing. CBP officials also told individuals that, if they did not answer questions, they would be indefinitely detained until they agreed to answer. This too is not only a legally inaccurate statement, but it flies in the face of the Fourth Amendment and the cases interpreting it. The refusal to answer questions does not create reasonable suspicion or probable cause to prolong a stop at these checkpoints. If a person refuses to comply and CBP cannot promptly determine the person’s immigration status, CBP must immediately release that person. CBP should cease its practice immediately of lying about the law and what is required in order to coerce compliance.
We, the ACLU of New Hampshire, as Granite Staters and Americans call upon our state’s political leaders to condemn these checkpoints and to call upon CBP to end their draconian practices. As Americans, we are at risk of losing our fundamental rights and freedoms—including the right to simply go about our business free from government interference, harassment, and abuse. If you have video footage of a CBP checkpoint in New Hampshire, please email it to the ACLU of NH at firstname.lastname@example.org.