CONCORD, N.H. — A federal lawsuit filed by ACLU affiliates in New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont challenges the use of checkpoints by the U.S. Border Patrol nearly 100 miles from the Canadian border, saying they are beyond the patrol’s authority.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in New Hampshire on behalf of Jesse Drewniak, of Hudson, New Hampshire, who was one of a group of people stopped at an August 2017 checkpoint in Woodstock, along Interstate 93.

“I found the checkpoint to be terrifying and dehumanizing,” Drewniak, a U.S. citizen, said in a statement. He was coming home from a fly-fishing trip to the White Mountains at the time.

A marker denotes the U.S./Canadian border in Littleton, Maine. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, said the the interior checkpoints are being used “as a ruse to unlawfully search and seize people for the purpose of general crime control.”

The lawsuit follows a 2017 case in which 16 people at the Woodstock checkpoint were charged with a violation-level offense of possessing small amounts of drugs, including Drewniak. A judge concluded the primary purpose of the checkpoint was the detection and seizure of drugs, making it “unconstitutional under both state and federal law.” Prosecutors later dismissed the charges.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson said Tuesday as a matter of policy, the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

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