Tester Wants Northern Ports Returned To Pre-pandemic Hours
Continuing his aggressive push to fully reopen the northern border and resume full trade and commerce with Canada, U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., last week led a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pressing the agency to return the hours of operations at northern ports of entry to pre-pandemic hours or, at minimum, match the operating hours of Canadian ports.
“As members of Congress who represent states across the northern border, we write to request U.S. Customs and Border Protection expand the hours of operation at ports of entry in our states to at a minimum, match the operating hours with their adjacent Canadian Border Services Agency ports,” wrote Tester and the members of Congress. “These ports of entry serve a vital role in connecting our states’ economies with Canada, and our constituents heavily rely on them for commerce, tourism, religious activities, trade, travel, health care, tribal connections and more.”
In March, Canada announced that it would resume regular hours at ports across the northern border. However, CBP has only restored or expanded hours at a few ports of entry in the U.S. and has not adjusted to coordinate hours of operation.
Tester and the bipartisan group of Members specifically noted how the Port of Raymond in Montana is still operating under reduced hours, presenting challenges for border towns whose economies rely on Canadian trade and commerce.
“The mismatched and uncoordinated hours are causing confusion and frustration across the northern border. For example, the Port of Regway in Canada is now open 24/7, but the Port of Raymond in Montana is still only open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.,” wrote the members.
The members of Congress concluded their letter by emphasizing that they stand ready to support CBP in their efforts to secure our borders and boost recruitment and retention of officers: “We stand ready to support your efforts to provide additional resources to CBP officers who currently are working hard to secure the northern border, to improve CBP recruitment, retention, and staffing levels, and to boost security along the northern and southern border to prevent illegal immigration.”
Tester has been an outspoken critic of the Biden Administration’s refusal to reinstate pre-pandemic hours of service at northern ports of entry.
In February, Tester called on the Biden Administration to fully reopen all ports of entry in Montana to pre-pandemic hours and terminate the vaccination requirements for Canadian truck drivers entering the United States through land ports of entry. His letter came directly after meeting with Montana farmers and business owners who rely on trade and travel across the northern border via Ports like Raymond, Opheim, and Morgan.
Montana shares a 545-mile border with Canada and is home to many border towns whose economies rely on Canadian trade and commerce. According to the Canadian Trade Commissioner, Canada is Montana’s top international trading partner, buying more from the state than the next six states combined.
Reports by the U.S. Trade Representative estimate that Montana exported $692 million in goods to Canada is 2018, representing 42 percent of the state’s total goods exports.