Sunday, August 16, 2009

More Tensions at the Calais - St. Stephen Border

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Ordeal at the border
Blueberry rakers — Micmacs from New Brunswick — complain about aggressive stops by U.S. Customs. Was it racial profiling?

By Sharon Kiley Mack
BDN Staff
TOWNSHIP 25, Maine — Hundreds of blueberry rakers traveling from Canada into Maine at the Calais border crossing during the past week were stopped, searched and questioned by U.S. Customs officials, something many said hasn’t happened to them in more than 40 years.
The rakers on their way to Maine’s blueberry fields were Micmacs, one of the First Nations groups of aboriginal peoples of northeastern Canada. Many said this week they believe they were stopped because they are Micmacs.

At the blueberry-harvesting areas north of Columbia Falls on Tuesday, many said their vehicles were searched by customs officials and dogs and that their paperwork was scrutinized. They carry First Nations status cards that serve as identification. The cards should enable them to cross the border under recently implemented Department of Homeland Security regulations.
Some of the Micmacs said they were held up for as long as three hours. Many reported that border agents frightened them with an aggressive attitude.

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