A New Hampshire judge has tossed out a novel strategy that two police departments had tried to use to combat illegal immigration, says the New York Times. The strategy involved charging illegal immigrants with criminal trespassing. In the last few months such citations were filed against at least nine people, mostly Mexicans, in the towns of New Ipswich and Hudson. Local police chiefs took immigration matters into their own hands because overburdened federal authorities were unable or unwilling to take action against immigrants who were not considered dangerous or otherwise a high law enforcement priority.
The towns’ actions received national attention. The Mexican government became concerned enough to pay some legal fees and to send its consul general in Boston to the court hearings. On Friday, Judge L. Phillips Runyon III of Jaffrey/Peterborough District Court said the towns’ actions could not be upheld because such immigration matters must be left to federal authorities. Runyon noted that local police departments may go through a training process that allows them to become deputies of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. That process, he said, “is further indication that Congress intended to preclude any local efforts which are unauthorized or based on other than federal law.”