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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Border divides a library

You got to see this. There is a town in Vermont on the US - Canada border that has facilities on both sides of the border. So, for example, if you take the library, if you are at the front door, you are in the US, but walk to the circulation desk, and you are now in Canada. There is a white line on the floor that depicts the border. There are streets that cover both countries. For a long time, the cross-border controls were lax, but as these started to be misused, and US Border Control grew more active, this particular town and its uniqueness is coming into focus. Refer this article:

Step through the front door of the Haskell Library and you're in the United States. Walk across the carpeted floor to the circulation desk and you're in Canada. But if you sit down on the couch, you're back in the U.S. The 106-year-old Romanesque building, which straddles the international border, has enjoyed a kind of informal immunity from border restrictions through the years.
"There's been an increase in illegal activity, both north and south, in the last little while," said Mark Henry, the operations officer for the Border Patrol's Swanton sector, which runs across northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. "There have been some significant cases."
Under the crackdown, instead of parking their cars outside the library in Quebec and walking to the front door in the U.S., Canadian patrons would have to detour through one of two ports of entry linking the municipalities.
"For as long as I've lived here, the practice was if they were only going to the library, they didn't have to report," said village trustee Keith Beadle, who also sits on the library board. If the streets are closed, smugglers will just walk across lawns or through the woods, Beadle said.
Smugglers have learned the side streets are unguarded, and while surveillance cameras monitor activity on other streets, border agents on both sides can't always get there in time when illegal activity is spotted. Even though Derby Line and Stanstead are separate municipalities, they share water and sewer systems and emergency crews, which respond to calls on both sides of the border.
For a long time, people have lived their life without worrying about the actual border between the countries, but all that seems to be changing now. With more terrorism, more smuggling and more people knowing about the easy border crossing, things are going to get more official.

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