Data from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) show its officers arrested nearly 7,000 people illegally crossing the U.S. border in the Swanton Sector last year, including 1,100 in October alone. That’s a 1900 percent increase since 2021.
And of the 736 “known or suspected terrorists” caught entering the country in fiscal 2023, 487 (66 percent) were caught on the U.S. northern border, not entering from the south. Another 89 have already been caught crossing the northern border in fiscal year 2024.
But because few of the illegal immigrants were caught specifically crossing New Hampshire’s 58 miles of border, the New Hampshire ACLU said Wednesday Gov. Chris Sununu and the Granite State should halt “dangerous policies” to stem the tide.
The progressive organization released numbers it received from CBP showing that “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 (ACLU-NH).
“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.”
Asked by NHJournal to identify what “dangerous policies” Sununu and New Hampshire law enforcement are proposing, Bissonnette and the ACLU-NH declined to respond.
In October, Sununu joined state Attorney General John Formella and members of North Country law enforcement to announce the formation of the Northern Border Alliance Task Force.
“There have been more apprehensions along our northern border in just this past year than the last 10 years combined,” Sununu said at the time. “In a meeting with local law enforcement up north, it was made very clear to us that folks on the front lines who are dealing with this day to day, we do need more targeted resources.”
On Wednesday, Sununu released a statement in response to the ACLU’s claims.
“Securing our Northern Border is widely supported by citizens across New Hampshire, and cherry-picked data from the ACLU will never impact New Hampshire’s obligation to protect our citizens,” Sununu said.
Formella expressed his disappointment with the Biden administration for sending the data “directly to the ACLU without providing any New Hampshire-specific data relating to the northern border to New Hampshire law enforcement partners.”
And, Formella argued, the data “is misleading.”
“It does not take into account a whole host of variables including (but not limited to) the total number of interactions at the northern border in New Hampshire, nor does it include what the Border Patrol calls known ‘got aways’, unknown ‘got aways’, or sensor activations in New Hampshire during FY2023,” Formella said. “It is also important to note that this incomplete snapshot represents data collected by a severely limited number of U.S. Border Patrol assets patrolling the state in 2023. New Hampshire law enforcement officials were warned by our federal partners in 2023 that assets normally assigned to New Hampshire were being pulled away from New Hampshire to address the crisis at the southern border.”
Notably, the ACLU-NH and other critics aren’t arguing about the massive increase in illegal crossings at the northern border or in the Swanton Sector. Rather, they argue, there is no danger facing the Granite State.
That claim comes in the wake of last year’s arrest of an illegal immigrant from Brazil wanted for mass murder who was living in Rye, N.H. On Wednesday, CBP announced the arrest of an illegal immigrant from the Dominican Republica wanted for first-degree murder in Toronto in the New York section of the Swanton Sector.
The ACLU-NH also objected to the Sununu administration spending $1.4 million to fund the additional police manhours and overtime at the northern border. Sununu has repeatedly noted the Biden administration has taken away funding for border security in the area through Operation Stone Garden.
In 2018, New Hampshire received nearly $4 million from the Trump administration through the program, but those funds were slashed to just $180,000 by the Biden administration in 2022 and $200,000 in 2023.