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ACLU of NH Sues Merrimack Police Department

Robert Garrova

The ACLU of New Hampshire has filed a lawsuit against the Merrimack police department in federal court, arguing that the department illegally detained an immigrant.

Willy Fernando Godoy-Ramirez was a passenger in a car that broke down along Daniel Webster Highway on August 29, 2019.

Police had asked for the driver and Godoy-Ramirez’s identification, and told both to stay in the vehicle for about an hour until Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrived, according to court documents.

Both Godoy-Ramirez and the driver provided identification from Guatemala.

“Merrimack Police violated the law by detaining someone solely because they think the person is undocumented,” said SangYeob Kim, immigration staff attorney at the ACLU of NH, in a statement.

Godoy-Ramirez, who is seeking asylum, was held in ICE custody for 65 days.

The ACLU is suing on two counts of violation of the fourth and fourteenth amendments and state law false imprisonment claim.

In its second count, the ACLU argues that "the Town of Merrimack has failed to train its police officers that they may not seize individuals for civil immigration violations," and that the town doesn't have any policies in place about how an officer should handle a situation if they believe a person is in the U.S. unlawfully. 

This is the third lawsuit the ACLU of NH has filed against local police departments for unlawfully holding immigrants for ICE.

Read the lawsuit below:

Daniela is an editor in NHPR's newsroom. She leads NHPR's Spanish language news initiative, ¿Qué Hay de Nuevo, New Hampshire? and the station's climate change reporting project, By Degrees. You can email her at

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