BANGOR – As the nation grapples with immigration issues, the State of Maine is seeing the ripple effects.
While the country is in the middle of a debate over President Trump’s new family separation policy that takes innocent children from their parents if the family is caught crossing the southern border illegally, people in Maine are seeing first hand how new immigration rules can affect them.
Starting around the beginning of the year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have been popping by the Concord Coach Lines bus station on Union Street in Bangor to ask riders if they are U.S. Citizens.
That caused a little uproar, but nothing compared to when a passenger posted a Facebook Live video on Memorial Day of him being asked the question and a bus official incorrectly saying riders have to be u.s. citizens to ride the bus.
“With border patrol being present, we should have been more prepared to have our staff fielding those kinds of inquiries,” said Benjamin Blunt, the vice president of Concord Coach Lines.
Blunt said immigration status is never a question bus riders are asked, and that the company has no control over the federal agents.
“We really have no relationship with them. It’s very much within the law for them to do what they are doing. We’re not coordinated with them at all. We hardly speak to them,” Blunt said. “They just show up and do their job. They Don’t really tell us what they are doing and that is their right to do.”
After the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and New Hampshire saw the passenger’s Facebook post, they created a video about how people, in their opinion, should handle the situation.
“You have the right to refuse to answer any questions about your citizenship in situations like this,” the ACLU video states. “You have the right to remain silent.”
Hampden resident Connie Potvin said she recently took the bus from Bangor to Portland and the agent’s questions made her feel uneasy, even with her blue eyes and light colored hair.
“Imagine what it’s like for folks who are, you know, different shades, different ethnicity,” Potvin said.