HOULTON (AP) – Businesses near Maine’s border say a security proposal for American ports of entry would make it difficult for them to do business with Canadians.

“This would certainly hurt the little bit of Canadian business we have left,” said Glen Daigle of Daigle’s Furniture and Appliance in Madawaska. “I don’t think we need to strain the relationship we have with Canada any further.”

The program would require people who are not United States citizens to register when they enter and leave the country as a way to track the arrival and departure of non-citizens. The plan is designed to deny access to people, such as criminals, who shouldn’t be in the country.

Policies for monitoring aliens entering and leaving the United States received greater priority after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The border security plan that has some business owners in northern and eastern Maine upset is only in its preliminary stages, according to a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine.

“We don’t have any official confirmation that this is anything more than a concept,” said Dave Lackey, Snowe’s press secretary.

Some business leaders from Aroostook and Washington counties have met with staff from Maine’s other senator, Republican Susan Collins, to discuss the issue. Canadian officials are also worried about how the program could affect trade.

Collins, who chairs a committee that oversees the Department of Homeland Security, said she would work closely with the department to make sure that Maine residents can continue to conduct cross-border business without additional hassles.

Some Canadian officials say that requiring people entering and leaving the United States from Canada to make two extra stops could have a negative impact on trade, since about 85 percent of Canada’s exports are to the United States.

Robert Fonberg, senior official in Canada’s Privy Council Office, told the Canadian National Post last week that such a program has “potentially substantial and disruptive implications for border flows.”


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