Canada probing U.S. immigration patrols near northern border

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Earlier this week, news broke that the United States Border Patrol has been entering Canadian waters to stop and interview fishing boats in the resource-rich Gulf of Maine.

"Canada continues to investigate these incidents that occurred in Canadian waters, including through engaging with USA agencies involved in the matter", John Babcock, a spokesman for Global Affairs Canada said on Wednesday.

A Canadian fishermen's group said this week that over the last two weeks at least 10 fishing boats from New Brunswick have been intercepted by USA patrol agents while fishing around Machias Seal Island.

A spokesman for New Brunswick fishermen, Laurence Cook, chairman of a local lobster advisory, told The Canadian Press he's never seen border patrol agents in the area, though the U.S. Coast Guard operates there routinely.

Late Wednesday, however, US officials told CBC News there were border agents in the area to "enforce immigration laws and other violations of federal law".

Concerns about illegal immigration at the border between the U.S. and Mexico should not be applied to the Canada-U.S. border, he added.

The association declined to comment on the matter. The waters around the 18-acre island, known for their lobster fishing, are a gray zone, meaning both the US and Canada consider them sovereign territory.

The possibility of illegal immigrants entering the US from Canada via the Bay of Fundy is remote, according to a local immigration lawyer.

Drouin said he believed Canadians were overreacting to the Border Patrol stops.

"If the Canadians want to use the term harass, they have been harassing us for years", Drouin said.

The decision to enforce American immigration rules in the area effectively denies the strong Canadian claim to the islands and waters.

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Trudeau has also been critical of the White House's hardline "zero tolerance" immigration policies and the consequent result of family separations at the border, saying that it's "not the way we do things in Canada".

The ACLU has sued Department of Homeland Security to obtain records relating to Border Patrol operations in northern New England, including bus station and highway checkpoints.

"There's been a bit of a misunderstanding there somewhere", Cook told the newspaper.

The flare-up - amid recently heightened tensions between the United States and Canadian government over trade - revolves around the last, unresolved land-border dispute between the two longtime North American allies.

Canada's foreign affairs department said that it had heard about two stops in late June involving Border Patrol officers and had asked the USA government for an explanation.

A representative for the association did not respond to an interview request Thursday.

The dispute over the Gray Zone around Machias Seal Island traces back to the period following the American Revolutionary War.

"Until the matter of the boundary is resolved, we will continue to take practical steps with the ensure that the area is well-managed".

The US border patrol has been accused of "bullying" Canadian fishing vessels in the seas near ME amid tensions between the countries over US President Donald Trump's trade tariffs.

"Is this overkill? Absolutely".

"I'm sure from the border patrol's perspective, that's not at all what they were doing", he said, citing the American claim on the area that dates back to the late 1700s.