Politicians in Maine are urging the United States government to not crack down on a golf course on the border with New Brunswick.
The Aroostook Valley Country Club is on the New Brunswick side of the border near Perth-Andover, but its entrance and parking are in Maine.
For decades, golfers have used a small country lane, Brown Road, on the American-side of the border to reach the club's entrance on Russell Road. But with no checkpoint on the road or at the entrance to the course, the U.S. border patrol has no way of knowing who is crossing back and forth between the two countries, said U.S. border official deputy chief Alfredo Casillas.
A recent sale of illegal drugs on the course was the last straw in the American decision to crackdown on the border crossing, said Casillas.
"It may not be a drug transaction next time. It could be something a lot worse," he said. "Our nation's security, national security, is at stake."
Border officials will soon be stationed on the road that leads into the golf course, he said, and people will be ordered to go through Fort Fairfield, Maine, through customs to get to the course. It is about a 33-kilometre detour.
"To arbitrarily decide that that activity should no longer occur because one person broke the law is just not appropriate," said Fort Fairfield town manager Dan Foster.
If border officials truly feel there is a risk to national security, the road should be manned in such a way to eliminate the risk, Foster said.
"That takes away the risk but does not impede the daily lives of the law-abiding citizens who live in the area."
The Aroostook Valley Country Club was founded 81 years ago by Canadian and American businessmen. Its membership is fairly evenly divided between citizens from both sides of the New Brunswick-Maine border, club officials told CBC News.
Mike Allen, member of Parliament for Tobique-Macaquac, said border security's proposal for golfers to go through Fort Fairfield doesn't resolve the issue because it's asking patrons to then illegally cross into Canada without going through customs.
"If you go through Fort Fairfield and you come into the parking here, then you've entered Canada illegally by coming to the golf course, and as soon as you get back into your car, you're entering the U.S. unlawfully," Allen said. "So you've really committed two crimes by coming over and playing golf."
Seasonal checkpoint in order, says MP, senator
Stephen Leitch, the golf pro at the course, said he is worried that golfers who encounter the patrols may decide not to come back.
"You know on the way home, they say to each other, 'We still love to play golf at Aroostook Valley but there's an awful lot of places to play golf. We don't need that hassle,'" Leitch said.
Allen and Maine Senator Susan Collins are calling for a seasonal checkpoint to be set up on Russell Road, which leads into the golf course.
Impeding access to the golf course would be damaging to Fort Fairfield's local economy and residents, Collins said in a release.
Canada operates a seasonal port of entry on the road. The United States also did until the 1950s.
Re-establishing that customs point while the golf course is operational would solve the problem and be in the best interest of the community, Collins wrote in a letter to the commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.