Skip to comments.Faceoff over civil rights and immigration legalities
Posted on 05/24/2005 3:36:23 AM PDT by NH Red
Despite efforts yesterday of a group of protesters armed with a letter signed by 200 sympathizers New Ipswich Police Chief W. Garrett Chamberlain said he would not budge on his stance against allowing illegal immigrants in town.
"I will not subscribe to the open-borders philosophy," Chamberlain told a crowd of about 30 members of the New Hampshire Immigrant Rights Task Force yesterday.
The group rallied first at the New Ipswich police station to protest Chamberlain's use of the state's criminal trespassing law to bring some attention to the federal government's failure to take custody of illegal immigrants his department has arrested.
New Ipswich Police Chief W. Garrett Chamberlain, left, listens as Rep. Hector M. Velez, D-Manchester, reads a statement yesterday. (STEPHEN SEITZ) "If you're going to come here, then come here legally. I'll welcome you with open arms," Chamberlain said.
The protesters, made up of various human rights and labor organizations from around New Hampshire, also delivered a letter of protest to Hudson Police Chief Richard Gendron.
The letter, read to Chamberlain by Rep. Hector M. Velez, D-Manchester, chastised officials for "unjust unconstitutional denials of human rights."
"Everyone in the United States of America, regardless of immigration status, is entitled to equal protection under our nation's laws," Velez said.
The group also accused police departments of setting the stage for racial profiling through their actions.
"Those who are most likely to come under police scrutiny under such policies would be people whose complexion is dark, who speak languages other than English, and who were born in other countries, regardless of immigration status," Velez read.
Just before protesters arrived in Hudson, Gendron was being hailed by a group of legislators who presented him with a plaque. The recently formed New Hampshire House of Representatives Immigration Caucus was led by Rep. David Buhlman, R-Hudson.
Bulhman said they came to formally recognize Gendron's "courage to stand up and apply these laws to apprehend those who are in the United States illegally, and who are, therefore, breaking our laws."
The Immigration Caucus, which was formed in February by about 20 House members, plans to introduce a package of legislation in September, including a resolution calling upon the U.S. Congress "to get the (illegal immigration) situation under control," Buhlman said.
Legislation will also be introduced to codify the use of the state's criminal trespass law to charge illegal immigrants as New Ipswich and Hudson police have done and to make it a state crime to knowingly hire illegal immigrants, he said.
It remains unclear if the current criminal trespass charges will be upheld by the courts.
Gendron accepted the plaque, saying, "There is a process in place to come into this country, and everyone needs to follow it . . . I think it took 9/11 to wake us up, and I think, unfortunately, we've fallen back asleep."
New Hampshire AFL-CIO president Mark MacKenzie, who attended the protest, said illegal immigrants are part of the economy "and that's the reality."
Charging illegal immigrants with criminal trespassing "is an embarrassment for New Hampshire," he said. "I think it paints us a right-wing, reactionary state."
Lily Mesa of Manchester said this practice will scare immigrants from calling police if they need help, causing a public safety issue.
Arnie Alpert, right, listens to Russell Cook, left, as Bruce Miller looks on in the parking lot of the New Ipswich police station yesterday. Cook was praising Police Chief W. Garrett Chamberlain for charging an illegal immigrant with trespassing, while Alpert was joined by about 30 critics saying the trespassing charge is unjust and unconstitutional. (AP) Protesters held signs reading: "You can't trespass on public property," and "No Human Being Is Illegal."
Chamberlain reiterated his position.
"I knew this situation would be misconstrued," Chamberlain said. "This issue is legal versus illegal, it's not a matter of nationality. I've never detained anyone who was here legally, ever. I apply the law evenly across the board to everybody."
Chamberlain has gained national attention for charging Jorge Mora Ramirez, 21, with criminal trespassing. After Ramirez's car broke down in New Ipswich in mid-April, police determined he was in the U.S. illegally and charged him with criminal trespass. He is scheduled for trial on July 12.
Calling Chamberlain's use of the criminal trespass law "pretty creative," Gendron decided to charge illegal immigrants found in Hudson in the same fashion.
Less than a month after Chamberlain charged Ramirez, two officers stopped a vehicle on May 10 on Derry Road in Hudson because one of the vehicle's headlights did not work. After determining the driver and the passenger were illegal immigrants, police charged Sergio Ruiz-Robles, 21, and Margarito Jaramillio Escobar, 23, with criminal trespassing. Both men live in Nashua. Both admitted to entering the U.S. illegally, Gendron has said.
Among those turning out to support Gendron was Tom Stiling of Westford, Mass.
"We're protesting the protesters. We really believe that the government should be enforcing the borders."
"We can't afford to pay for all these people," said Neil Foley of Concord. "I'm just an average 'Joe Citizen,' and this stuff is really irking me."
Theo Amani of the NH Immigrants Rights Task Force stressed that while the group has no quarrel with police, they believe Chamberlain over-stepped his authority by applying the criminal trespass law to Ramirez who admitted to police that he was an illegal alien from Mexico.
"We tell immigrants that when something is wrong, the first place to go is the police station," he said. "The police are there to protect them. It's very important to keep in the community the feeling that the police are not the enemy. But this case is an abuse of power. The chief is there to enforce the law, not create the law."
Chamberlain said the response he's had has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I'd say about 700 positive e-mails and loads of letters," he said. "One that sticks out is from a World War II veteran who wrote me that, up until he saw this story, he thought that his service had been for nothing."
Here is the link to the PD to show your support. You can also read about the case that started this, the link is on the front page.
Chamberlain's an impressive young guy. Well spoken, very respective and good-humored.
Can you find the Quaker lady?
Thanks for the link, hope many will write short and supportive messages. He is a just and brave man to take this on knowing he will have to face the music on the "other side" of this issue.
It appears there are lots of pro illegal signs and just a couple anti illegal people out there. Is this the case? I certainly hope they can muster more on the anti illegal side since 80% of American's want to secure the border.
I hope he went through the crowd and checked those in attendance for their green cards.
Valez needs to keep in mind - it is one's right to break the law - if they wish to suffer the consequences. Don't like the consequences? tough until we change the law.
The protesters, who called themselves a Human Rights Caravan, carried signs with messages like: No Human Being is Illegal, Undocumented Immigrants Pay Taxes, is that illegal? and You Cant Trespass on Public Property.
We are representing communities across the state and dont want the message sent that this is what New Hampshire is all about, said Mark MacKenzie, president of N.H. AFL-CIO, just before leaving for Hudson. All people who come here should be protected.
Among those present was Escobar. Were here just to work, not be treated as criminals, he said.
Jim Giddings of Greenville, People are coming here to earn a living, he added. Their option is to sneak across the border to get a job.
State Rep. Hector Velez of Manchester, speaking for New Hampshire Immigrants Rights Task Force, read from a prepared statement, and said his organization was deeply troubled by the arrests here and in Hudson, and said it was an unjust denial of human rights.
Peter Buchanan of Dover, People who are undocumented come here for better opportunities, the same as our ancestors did. They want to work to support their families. The way he is going about it is negative. It is racial profiling.
>>>Chamberlain said the response he's had has been overwhelmingly positive.
"I'd say about 700 positive e-mails and loads of letters," he said. "One that sticks out is from a World War II veteran who wrote me that, up until he saw this story, he thought that his service had been for nothing."<<<<
God bless that veteran..
and Thank You Officer Chamberlain, you have renewed my faith in Law Enforcement.. i wish there were a million more like you. God bless you and stay safe.
Ma~bear, thanks for this link, where we can send a note of support to Chief Chamberlain.
Who funds this "task force?" Whoever does needs a good anal exam, metaphorically speaking.
New Ipswich, NH Police Department.
659 Turnpike Road
PO Box 439
New Ipswich, NH 03071
I'm a Hudson, NH, resident, and I sent a note of support to Chief Gendron last week. I received 2 replies: one from the department communications person saying that they've received only positive remarks, and another just now from Chief Gendron saying that they will remain committed to this cause.
This guy rocks. He is a true hero. And he's not exactly ugly either. The people in his community are very lucky.
Can you find Granny Clampett?
That Quaker lady is a neighbor of mine here in town and teaches at the local Quaker school.
She's very nice, but politically the Quakers tend to skew a tiny bit to the left.
I can assure you he did not.
I was struck by how respectful and polite the protestors were and by how professional and courteous the chief was as well.
The whole thing reflected well on those involved.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.