Speed Reads

news from the north

U.S. border agents are now boarding Canadian fishing boats looking for immigrants

Tensions are ratcheting up on the border — but not that border, the other one. U.S. border agents have intercepted at least 10 Canadian fishing boats off the coast of Maine in the past two weeks, going as far as to board the ships looking for potential undocumented migrants, The Toronto Star reports. "I guess the comment on the street would be: 'Typical American bullies,'" said Stephen Kelly, a former American diplomat who served in Canada. "They're not happy about it, and they don't think [the Americans] have any business doing this."

The U.S. border agents have targeted fishing boats off Machias Seal Island, a "gray area" east of Maine where Canadians and Americans fish for lobster side-by-side. "There's been a bit of a misunderstanding there somewhere," said Laurence Cook, the chairman of the advisory board for the lobster fishing area. "They're in international waters, so border patrol shouldn't be boarding Canadian vessels."

However, both countries claim jurisdiction over Machias Seal Island, which is occupied by two Canadian lightkeepers at its lighthouse. "The last thing Canada wants is for Donald Trump to seize on this as an example of U.S. sovereignty being challenged," Kelly explained. He added that transporting undocumented immigrants on the fishing boats is "possible" but that the Gulf of Maine is not typically a path for migrants.

"If anything," he said, "people are sneaking the other way."