CBP agrees to produce specific NH apprehension data after ACLU-NH FOIA lawsuit seeking this information
With data finally available, there are renewed questions over the $1.4 million in taxpayer funds being used for massive expansion of policing and surveillance in northern NH
CONCORD, N.H. - The ACLU of New Hampshire today unveiled that Border Patrol only had 21 apprehensions or encounters at the New Hampshire-Canada border during the 15 months between October 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023. The long-awaited data is being released as a result of a settlement in the ACLU of New Hampshire’s lawsuit seeking the data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
“No state official has been able to show any evidence to support claims of an increase in unauthorized border apprehensions in New Hampshire–and now we know why: because for 15 months, there were only 21 CBP encounters that occurred in New Hampshire. During the time period in which state officials suggested that there was a crisis at the New Hampshire-Canada border from October 2022 to January 2023, there was only one encounter in New Hampshire,” said Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire. “The dangerous policies they justified through fear-based rhetoric have been shown in study after study to have negative impacts on public safety. It’s time to stop funding the unnecessary and harmful expansion of policing and surveillance at New Hampshire’s northern border and instead focus on the real needs of the north country, like housing, substance use treatment, and mental health resources.”
The ACLU of New Hampshire filed its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on May 22, 2023 after CBP initially declined to release border apprehension data specific to New Hampshire. State politicians used data for the entire Swanton Sector, 295 border miles of which the Granite State comprises just 58, in an attempt to justify a $1.4 million budget to fund a massive expansion of police power and surveillance in northern New Hampshire.
“For nearly a year, Granite Staters have had a clear interest in accessing this data - which CBP had denied sharing on the state level, but has agreed to now share with the public,” said SangYeob Kim, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of New Hampshire. “Disclosure of this data is of critical importance as state lawmakers once again debate whether to allocate taxpayer dollars for increased policing and surveillance at the northern border.”
The number of encounters by CBP per month is as follows:
October 2022: 0
November 2022: 0
December 2022: 0
Jan 2023: 1
Feb 2023: 0
Mar 2023: 0
Apr 2023: 0
May 2023: 0
June 2023: 9
July 2023: 1
Aug 2023: 3
Sept 2023: 7
Oct 2023: 0
Nov 2023: 0
Dec 2023: 0
Grand Total: 21
The ACLU of New Hampshire had also filed right-to-know requests with Governor Sununu’s Office and the N.H. Department of Safety in March 2023 and found that neither office could provide any data to support their claims of increased unauthorized border crossings along New Hampshire’s northern border.
This data release also comes at a time when two immigration bills are right now making their way through the legislative process, including House Bill 1054, which would make the Governor’s $1.4 million Northern Border Alliance Program lapsing without further appropriations. During a House Committee hearing on the bill this morning, the ACLU of New Hampshire presented its newly-acquired data to show the program is unnecessary.
Another bill, Senate Bill 563, would force local New Hampshire police to do Immigration and Customs Enforcement's bidding and necessitate that police engage in federal immigration enforcement at the request of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, including aiding in the detention of individuals who the federal government is looking to detain. Immigration detainers are not signed by a judge, do not go through due process, and are not related to criminal activity. Similar bills have been opposed by multiple New Hampshire law enforcement leaders because of their potential impact on the ability of law enforcement to build community trust in their communities.
More information about this case, including court documents, is located here: https://www.aclu-nh.org/en/cases/aclu-new-hampshire-v-us-customs-and-border-protection-0