HUDSON, N.H. -- Police continue to arrest undocumented immigrants on trespassing charges, despite pending legal challenges to the practice.
In the latest case, Hudson police pulled over Bernarda Gallego, 32, of Nashua, on Thursday night. She initially was charged with driving with a suspended license, but when officers learned that she was not a legal US resident, they charged her with trespassing as well.
The arrest of Gallego, who originally is from Colombia, marks the fifth time in two months that police in southern New Hampshire have charged undocumented immigrants with trespassing.
New Ipswich, N.H., Police Chief Garrett Chamberlain was the first to use state law in an attempt to enforce a potential federal immigration violation when he charged Jorge Mora Ramirez, a 21-year-old Mexican, with trespassing in April.
Hudson police since have used the same tactic four times, charging three men and now one woman who could not prove they were in the country legally.
Hudson Police Chief Richard Gendron said arresting undocumented immigrants is an important part of national security, but the practice has been a lightning rod for how to deal with illegal immigration on a national level. Last month about 35 people showed up at the New Ipswich and Hudson police stations to protest the arrests.
In May, Sergio Ruiz-Robles, 21, and Margarito Jaramillo Escobar, 23, both undocumented Mexican immigrants living in Nashua, pleaded not guilty in Nashua District Court to criminal trespassing in Hudson.
Hudson police stopped the men for having defective equipment on their car.
The men's lawyers said they plan to challenge the charges on constitutional grounds. In a motion to dismiss, their attorney argued the federal government is responsible for regulating immigration.
A court hearing is scheduled for July 22.
Luiz De Amorim, 42, a Brazilian immigrant living in Hudson, also was cited last month for criminal trespassing and for driving without a valid license after a traffic stop. De Amorim was unable to produce a valid driver's license at the time. He had a Brazilian driver's license and told the officer that he was not in the country legally, police said.