Stuff I think you should know

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Community supports illegal alien detention

Several top local law enforcement officials in New Hampshire say they are taking a wait-and-see attitude or have no plans to prosecute illegal aliens on the state's criminal trespass charge — for now. New Ipswich Police Chief W. Garrett Chamberlain, the first New Hampshire police chief to institute the policy, said since his department made the first arrest in May, his views have not changed.

The law, RSA 635:22, reads that a person is guilty of criminal trespassing if, "knowing that he is not licensed or privileged to do so, he enters or remains in any place." Traditionally used in relation to private property, supporters of using the law against illegal aliens say the law can be applied to those who are in the state or the country without permission. Chamberlain said he has received a large number of calls and letters on the issue, most supportive.

On the other side…

Salem Police Chief William Donovan has established an official department policy that Salem police officers won't arrest illegal aliens on criminal trespass charges. He said he can appreciate the reason why Chamberlain and Gendron have ordered the tactic, but does not agree.

"I can understand the frustration that these guys are dealing with," Donovan said. "They're dealing with a lot of illegal immigrants in their town, but the fact of the matter is that we (as local law enforcement) don't have the right to do it."

Donovan said it is his understanding, based on conversations with Rockingham County Attorney James Reams and other attorneys, that only federal magistrates or officers from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency can make the official determination that an individual is an illegal alien. Derry Police Chief Edward Garone said his department does not use the criminal trespass charge against illegal aliens and will not be changing the policy unless a clear court decision is made on the New Ipswich and Hudson cases.

Unfortunately, now all we can do is wait and see what the courts decide.


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