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ACLU Lawsuit Claims Border Patrol Highway Checkpoints Are Unconstitutional

The American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the use of border patrol checkpoints they say occur frequently on I-93 and elsewhere in northern New England.

They argue that the checkpoints, which have detained hundreds if not thousands of legal travelers, are unconstitutional and conducted primarily for general crime control and drug interdiction rather than immigration enforcement.

“People should not have to answer to armed and unaccountable federal agents when they’re going about their daily business,” says Emma Bond, legal director of the ACLU of Maine.

Bond says U.S. Customs and Border Protection has narrow authority under law.

“But they frequently act beyond the stature and beyond the Constitution, as we’ve seen across the country in recent weeks,” she says.

The complaint says that, over 3 days in 2017, every vehicle traveling southbound on I-93 was stopped at a temporary checkpoint in Woodstock, New Hampshire, about 90 miles from the Canadian border. The suit says that U.S. Border Patrol Agents and the Woodstock Police Department used drug-sniffing dogs to inspect each vehicle, including the one in which the plaintiff was riding.