United States border agents are now boarding Canadian fishing boats looking for immigrants

Rosemary Collier
July 9, 2018

-Canada border on June 3, 2013 in Buffalo, New York.

In a Facebook post, the Association's Chair said the US officials claimed they were "looking for illegal immigrants" and that border officials have stopped at least ten fishing boats in the past two weeks.

The agency was conducting patrols to enforce immigration laws and other potential violations of federal law, the statement said, adding that among the Canadian vessels that were stopped, no immigration arrests were made.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents have been questioning Canadian fishermen in disputed territorial waters around Machias Island about possible illegal immigration, according to Canadian media reports. "Absolutely overkill", said Doucet, whose riding includes Grand Manan Island, where the Canadian boats are based. "Canada and the USA have a long history of co-operation which ensures that fishing in this area is well-managed and safe for both countries", he added. Boats from both countries have fished the waters comfortably for years.

In a Facebook post on June 25, Cook said Border Patrol stopped a fisherman in the area, who told them he was a Canadian legally fishing in Canadian waters.

"I guess the comment on the street would be: 'Typical American bullies, '" he said.

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They claim to be looking for illegal immigrants.

Like previously stated the island is in a grey area of the border but both Canadian and American fishermen work around the island. "They're not happy about it, and they don't think (the Americans) have any business doing this".

"Canada continues to investigate these incidents that occurred in Canadian waters, including through engaging with United States agencies involved in the matter", Babcock said.

"Canada's sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long standing and has a strong foundation in global law", spokesman John Babcock said in an emailed statement.

The Canadian flag flutters in the breeze by the lighthouse at Machias Seal Island.

"The U.S. Border Patrol does not board Canadian vessels in the gray zone without consent or probable cause, and agents only conduct interviews as a vessel runs parallel to it", said Stephanie Malin, a spokeswoman for Customs and Border Protection, which operates the border agency.

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"But it strikes me as a silly idea and a concerning expression of aggression by American border officials pushing into Canadian jurisdiction".

But this summer that camaraderie has been threatened, Canadian fishermen claim, as officers with the U.S. Border Patrol have started to wade into the area, pull up aside their vessels and ask about their citizenship.

Federal law gives Border Patrol the authority to stop, search and examine any vehicle entering the US including those in a maritime environment, Malin said. "As far as I'm concerned, it needs to stop immediately". "It's quite disturbing when you have fishermen on the water, doing their job, providing for their families ... and they're being harassed", he said.

American patrol boats would view the area as sovereign US waters where "they could stop any boats that gave them concern", said Kelly, once the deputy head of mission at his country's embassy in Ottawa.

"A lot of people are a lot more anxious about USA power on Canadian soil or in Canadian waterways", she said. When the Trump administration recently announced tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded that tariffs marked a negative "turning point" in U.S./Canadian relations.

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