Tag Archives: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

For border towns, attacks changed a way of life | Bangor Daily News

After the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, changes at Maine’s border crossings were not subtle. More officers were added at ports of entry, inspectors became more vigilant and, in some cases, new ports were constructed.

Although less visible, the division of cross-border communities is one of the long-lasting impacts of the attacks and the heightened security and border restrictions that resulted.

Before 9/11, the border between Maine and Canada was more a line on a map than a barrier. Border agents from both countries often simply waved through the familiar faces they saw frequently crossing the international boundary. Residents of Aroostook County attended churches in New Brunswick. Canadians bought cheaper gas in The County. Socializing with friends and family on the other side of the border was routine.

Reports shortly after 19 hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon said some of the men had entered the U.S. through Canada. Although not true (the hijackers flew into the U.S. from Europe, Asia and the Middle East and had visas issued by the U.S. government), work to better secure the border soon was under way.

While millions of federal dollars have been spent on improving infrastructure — such as building new crossing facilities in Calais, Van Buren and Forest City — the change that has most affected Aroostook County residents is the requirement for a passport, passport card or NEXUS card, an alternative offered through U.S. Customs and Border Protection, to cross the border.

Click to read the rest of the story by Jen Lynds, Diana Bowley, and Sharon Kiley Mack in the Bangor Daily News, along with video.

 

Customs may vacate Portland landmark | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

Customs may vacate city landmark | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

Haiti or bust, Sea Hunter’s crew keeps eyes on goal

MIAMI — It’s one of those images that stick with you forever.

Ten years ago, on the first of his many seagoing voyages to Haiti, Brian Ryder looked out at the approaching port city of Les Cayes.

Off in the distance at the end of a rickety dock stood a small boy, maybe 4 years old, staring intently back at Ryder.

“He was all stove up – had bloody knees and legs and he was sparsely clothed,” recalled Ryder, a 48-year-old father of five from West Bath.

Asking around, Ryder later learned that the Haitian boy had no mother, no father, no family at all. Like a stray animal, he relied on the people who worked around the dock for his meager survival.

“It was a life-changing experience,” recalled Ryder, who now serves as chief engineer aboard the treasure-salvage ship Sea Hunter.

Late Friday night, as Ryder lay in his bunk aboard Sea Hunter wondering if the ship will ever complete its on-again, off-again relief mission to Haiti, the little boy once again forced his way through the thicket of Ryder’s worries.

“How would my kids feel if their whole family was gone and they’re in this strange place with nobody really to hold them and say, ‘Hey, it’s going to be OK. Don’t cry. Don’t be scared’?” Ryder said. “Man, I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.”

It’s easy, in the storm of controversy now swirling around the Sea Hunter and its owner, Greg Brooks, to lose sight of what this anything-but-conventional vessel and its crew are ultimately trying to accomplish.

Click on the link for the rest of today’s column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.

Stymied ship unsnarls sticky knot in red tape

MIAMI — The Maine-based relief ship Sea Hunter took two steps forward and one step back Friday in its owner’s quest to deliver supplies to an orphanage in Haiti.

By late afternoon, the ship’s owner, Greg Brooks of Gorham, confirmed that a licensed shipmaster from Orlando, with ties to Maine Maritime Academy, had volunteered to come aboard early next week and ride Sea Hunter to Haiti and then back to its winter berth in Boston.

The decision by Richard Devins, who holds an “unlimited master” license, could satisfy the Coast Guard’s demand that Sea Hunter no longer sail without licensed personnel aboard.

“It’s amazing that this man donated his license and his time to come down and help us,” said Brooks. “All he asked was that when we get back to Boston, we buy him a plane ticket home.”

Taking another step toward their goal, the crew and local dockworkers finished clearing the ship’s cluttered main deck and taking aboard 10 containers of relief supplies donated by a Florida-based charity shortly after 4:30 p.m.

That beat the dock owner’s deadline for loading the containers. Under a more flexible deadline, the move to another berth nearby finally got under way at 9 p.m.

“Everybody pulled together, that’s for sure,” said Rick Woodbury, 49, of Scarborough, a friend of Brooks’ who volunteered for the mission. “It was a good day, no doubt about it.”

Enthusiasm about the forward progress was tempered, however, by news that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office in Miami had ordered Brooks to provide, by this afternoon, a complete inventory of all goods taken aboard in Portland and Boston.

In addition, customs officials told Brooks he must pay a duty based on the total value of the tons of clothing, food and equipment brought to the ship in late January by people and businesses all over Maine.

Click on the link for the rest of today’s column by Bill Nemitz of the Portland Press Herald.

 

Captain volunteers for relief mission

Click for the latest update: Captain volunteers for relief mission