The US denies North Dakota’s request to reinstate schedules at Canada-US border crossings.


US Customs and Border Protection will not restore operating hours to pre-pandemic levels at some ports of entry in North Dakota, despite pressure from Gov. Doug Burgum.

In a letter to the agency and the US Department of Homeland Security sent Friday, Burgum said reduced hours at several North Dakota port crossings along the US-Canada border “causes significant difficulties in the movement of citizens, goods and tourists between our two nations. .”

In a statement to The Associated Press on Friday, federal agencies said longer opening hours cannot be justified due to reduced traffic volumes at border crossings, a decline that began even before the pandemic.

“For several years prior to COVID, CBP documented a reduction in vehicle and pedestrian traffic along our northern border, and it is CBP’s obligation to responsibly use all available resources to carry out our mission of safeguarding the homeland.” “, says the statement.

North Dakota has 17 border crossings, and the Pembina crossing on Interstate 29 in the northeastern part of the state is the busiest. In April 2020, hours of operation were reduced by several hours at night at 10 of the crossings. Hours have also been shortened at some ports of entry in Montana, Minnesota, Idaho and Washington, and will continue to be so, the agencies said.

The federal government said at the time that the reduction in hours would be temporary.

On April 1, 2022, the federal government rescinded the requirement that fully vaccinated travelers entering the US be tested for the coronavirus.

Burgum said in his letter that the relaxed rule caused a 40 percent increase in the number of people entering the US through North Dakota. But Burgum said the number of people crossing the border is still half of pre-pandemic levels.

“North Dakotans and Canadians in these areas are forced to deal with hours that do not fit the daily routine of the average person,” Burgum wrote. “A North Dakotan’s day doesn’t start at 9 a.m. Hardships for people who want to cross the border beyond these limited hours.”

The Republican governor estimated that North Dakota lost more than $283 million in Canadian visitor spending due to the pandemic.

“Spend by these Canadian visitors constitutes nearly 10% of North Dakota visitor spending annually, and the importance of these international dollars to our economy cannot be underestimated,” Burgum wrote.

Burgum sent a similar letter to agencies earlier in the year and spoke with CBP Commissioner Chris Magnus in June to request additional hours. Magnus, who reports to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, is a former Fargo police chief.

In the small town of Noonan, just 7 miles from the US-Canadian border, Donna Fagerland said there is a noticeable drop in the number of Canadians visiting her town from about 180 people.

“We used to be strangers in our own hometown,” said Fagerland, a 76-year-old former cafe owner in Noonan. “We’ve always had Canadians here, but not as many come.”

The shorter hours at the port of entry, which opens at 9 am but now closes at 5 pm instead of 10 pm, has created problems for people on both sides of the border, Fagerland said.

Most of the visitors come from Estevan, Saskatchewan, a city of about 14,000 people about 20 miles from Noonan, he said.

Many come to North Dakota to hunt and fish, but Noonan’s biggest draw is its two bars and post office, Fagerland said. Several Canadians own homes in the city and many send their mail and packages to Noonan because postage rates are less expensive in the US, he said.

“They like to come and pick up their mail and visit,” he said. “Drinks are also cheaper.”

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