A border tale of two cities

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MARCO WERMAN: A tale of two cities along the U-S-Canadian border is heading for an unhappy ending. The towns are Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec. They sit right next to each other. In fact, the library and the opera house straddle the border. One resident of Stanstead says her community and Derby Line are like brother and sister. But now, brother and sister are being separated. A pair of five-foot-tall steel gates are being put up across two streets.
Raymond Yates is the Mayor of Stanstead, Quebec, and Mayor Yates, tell us about these gates. Why have they been put up and who decided to put them up?

MAYOR RAYMOND YATES: Well, we've been fighting this issue really to be able to keep our streets open, because of the historical facts of Stanstead and Derby Line. And nobody really wanted to see the street closed. But instead of really having fences and stuff like that, we came to an agreement to implant some private gates, but they were--

WERMAN: Mayor Yates, let me just jump in here. I thought the gates were a post-9/11 Homeland Security undertaking. It sounds like what you're saying is that the citizens of Stanstead, Quebec, and Derby Line, Vermont, decided to put this gate up. But isn't that kind of thing, a gate between two sovereign nations, a federal jurisdiction thing?

YATES: It was all enforced by the American government, of course. But on the other hand, myself, I had to take the responsibility of acknowledging the safety of our people on the border--

WERMAN: Let's talk about the scope of that security threat, because according to the US border patrol, criminal smuggling organizations use Stanstead, your town, as a gateway to smuggle people from the US to Canada. Is that a legitimate threat in your opinion?

YATES: It's really alleged [INDISCERNIBLE] statement, okay. Yes, of course, because of the open streets that were there, the people that they apprehended, some of them came from Arizona, a little bit of all of the states of the United States. He had maps and everything.

WERMAN: Now you initially opposed the gates, Mayor Yates. Why did you change your mind?

YATES: Yes, I did, just like everybody else. We didn't want for them to take away really what belonged to us and what we had been living for years and years. And I didn't want the whole world to see a picture that either one of the towns were dividing two nations. You know, we get along real fine. It's not us. The problem-- the people from Stanstead comply with the laws that are required by both lands.

WERMAN: We're talking here, Mayor Yates, against the context of the specter of Al Qaida coming across the border of Homeland Security. But let me ask you the key issue for a lot of your residents, and it will probably be a major test for the new gates: what is the drinking age in Stanstead and what is it in Vermont?

YATES: I think that here in Canada, it's 18, and in Vermont, I think it's 21.

WERMAN: It'll be interesting to see how many 19 year old Vermonters manage to make it over that five-foot gate under the influence.

YATES: You think so?

WERMAN: Yeah. Could be interesting to watch.

YATES: [laughs] I don't think really that any Vermonters that come up here drinking has ever used any gates really. They've always come across the border. I'm not saying they won't go through Church Street, okay, which is no gates there.

WERMAN: So there are streets, Mayor Yates, in Stanstead that don't have gates?

YATES: There is one that is not going to have gates.

WERMAN: So what's the point of putting gates on these other two streets?

YATES: Well, the other two streets are really streets that they've been using a lot more, okay. Ball Street, which is really close to the interstate and the autoroute here, but the thing is, is I think that there was more crossing into Canada by these streets, even on foot, but they won't be able with a vehicle come through there.

WERMAN: If I'm a terrorist, I'm going to go down to that other street that doesn't have a gate.

YATES: Yeah, but you won't get far. There's no need of them to try, because they won't get very far.

WERMAN: Raymond Yates, the mayor of Stanstead, Quebec, thank you very much indeed, sir.

YATES: My pleasure, sir. Have a good day.