The Haskell Free Library and Opera House famously sits on the Canada-U.S. border — the entrance in Derby Line, Vermont, the books and circulation desk in Stanstead, Quebec. Patrons from Canada are permitted to cross the border on foot to enter the library, do the book-learnin’ stuff they do in there, and re-enter Canada.
It works. In fact, the Haskell has existed unchanged for generations, stony but warm, offending no one, beloved by all, a veritable Casey Kasem of cultural institutions.
In recent years, however, officials who worry about things to worry about began to worry that Church Street, which connects Stanstead and Derby Line beside the library, had become a virtual conduit for illegal cross-border activity. Why, just last week 14 Romanians entered Canada illegally at Stanstead. Imagine! Romanians! With their dangerous Romanian dining habits and their Romanian reputations for texting-and-driving. What next? Mongols? Tartars? Biebers?
Of course, there’s no evidence that the Romanians entered Canada at Church Street BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT! (That’s how you have to talk to Romanians, by the way; a frustratingly hearing-impaired people.) The point is that our streets are sieves! In fact, I’m proposing that be our new town motto: “Welcome to Stanstead! Our Streets are Sieves!” In French? “Bienvenue aux rues des trous!”
The American response to the situation was as follows: U.S. Border Patrol assigns one, sometimes two vehicles to sit on the American side of the border virtually 24 hours a day. Sure they scare away the odd book lover, but the type that scares that easily is probably the type who wanted to borrow Fifty Shades of Grey, and the waiting list for that is already way too long, and honestly, Border Patrol is probably doing you a favour.
The Border Patrol guys have big trucks. They have guns. They have no teeth. Actually, I don’t know that for sure, but they never smile when I wave at them, so I have my suspicions. In short, criminals, smugglers and dazed tourists ought to think twice about crossing the border into the U.S.
What have the Canadian officials done to deter would-be illegals?
They’ve installed flower pots.
The RCMP plan to weed out illegals with plants.
Foil them with foliage.
Stymie them with stamens.
Impede them with petunias.
Curtail them with chrysanthemums.
Any illegals with allergies better not come near our border, buster!
I’m just thankful that cooler heads prevailed and they cancelled the proposed cotton-candy barricade.
So this is Canada’s response: tough on crime, easy on the eyes.
I do hope, though, they’ve weighed all the risks in implanting plants along the border (border plants?). Flowers, after all, are notorious for attracting dangerous stinging bees. And Romanians.
Update: Since writing this, it has become clear that the wave of aspiring refugees flooding over the border are not Romanians but Roma people. And, no, the pots aren’t stopping them.
Update II: Thoughts on the (meager) cost of illegal immigration: Lives measured on the beer scale.