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U.S. tightens security along Great Lakes border

Last Updated: Friday, August 8, 2008 | 8:04 PM ET

A Black Hawk helicopter like this one in Minden, Nev., will be conducting daily patrols around the Great Lakes border from the newly opened Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch in Michigan.A Black Hawk helicopter like this one in Minden, Nev., will be conducting daily patrols around the Great Lakes border from the newly opened Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch in Michigan. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)The United States will unveil new border surveillance measures Friday in a move that has one New Democratic MP decrying what he sees as the "weaponization" of the Canada-U.S. frontier.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is slated to open an air and marine border-monitoring outpost just north of the Detroit-Windsor border at Selfridge Air National Guard Base on Lake St. Clair in Michigan.

The $17-million Great Lakes Air and Marine Branch will help fight human and drug smuggling, U.S. officials said. The post will use 11 aircraft, including a Black Hawk helicopter, and five boats to patrol the Great Lakes waterways daily, said Eric Rembold, director of aviation operations at U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Windsor West MP and NDP border critic Brian Masse voiced his concern Thursday about the implications of the new surveillance measures.

"If we're going to continue to see weaponization that is used in conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq put on the Canada-U.S. border, saying that it's required for safety and security, it really changes the nature of our relationship," he said.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, airplane hijackings, the U.S. Congress mandated the opening of five border-monitoring outposts to strengthen the security of the country's northern frontier. The Michigan branch is the final one to be opened.

The other four branches — located in Bellingham, Wash., Grand Forks, N.D., Great Falls, Mont., and Plattsburgh, N.Y. — were opened between 2004 and 2007.

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