St. Stephen – The St. Stephen RCMP intends to increase its patrols in the Milltown area of the community following the announcement by the Canada Border Services Agency of a reduction in hours at the Milltown border crossing, between St. Stephen and Calais, Me.
Sgt. Peter Stubbs said patrols will be increased during the hours the border is closed, which, effective Aug. 20, will be from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily.
The reduction in hours was announced by CBSA Friday. “Staffing reductions are not expected. Some employees may be assigned to other nearby locations,” said a CBSA spokesperson.
The new hours coincide with the decision announced earlier this year by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to reduce its hours of operations at the same border crossing also effective Aug. 20, during the same overnight time frame.
“The CBSA is committed to facilitating travel and trade while maintaining the security of the Canadian border, and will continue to work closely with the USCBP and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to ensure that land borders remain secure,” read an emailed statement.
However, Jean Pierre Fortin, national president of the Customs and Immigration Union in Canada, said despite the increased patrols by the RCMP, the level of security in the region would be reduced with the cutback in border crossing hours.
He noted in particiular what he described as the asylum seeker crisis – individuals seeking illegal entry into Canada.
“You will be exposed,” he stated, adding the reduction of hours in the Milltown border crossing as well as at five other border crossings in New Brunswick, will leave more roads open for immigrants to come into the country.
Fortin said the RCMP does not have the resources to patrol those areas exclusively, noting the force is short staffed.
He said CBSA has a reduced the number of its officers by 1,400 in the last four years, and the attrition rate of 500 people per year has only been replaced by 225 individuals.
Fortin said his union would be monitoring the situation closely.
The USCBP reduced its hours of operation at seven ports of entry following a review of low volume ports of entry in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont.
CBSA will also make changes to five other ports of entry along the New Brunswick, Maine border on Aug. 6, and on Sept. 4.
On Aug. 20 reduced CBSA hours of operation will also occur at Bloomfield POE, which will close on Sundays and statutory holidays. Centreville POE will close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. ADT., and Gillespie POE will close from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. ADT.
Effective Sept. 4, Forest City POE will close on Sundays from Labour Day (the first Monday of September), to the United States Memorial Day (last Monday of May).
Fosterville POE will adjust its winter hours (between Labour Day- the first Monday of September and Memorial Day- last Monday of May), to 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ADT, seven days a week, beginning Sept. 4