Tester Urges Border Patrol to Fully Open Ports on Northern Border

Senator pushes to return to pre-pandemic hours at all Montana ports of entry

In his continued push to fully reopen commercial and recreational activity across the United States-Canada border, U.S. Senator Jon Tester wrote a letter to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus urging him to resume pre-pandemic operations at all ports of entry in Montana.

“We have made significant headway in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, yet most ports of entry in Montana continue to operate at reduced hours,” wrote Tester. “Expanding the hours of operation for ports of entry across the northern border to pre-pandemic hours, including implementing extended summer hours and returning to 24-hour operations at certain ports, is critical for the economies of rural communities across northern Montana. These communities depend on trade and commerce with our Canadian neighbors.”

Tester concluded: “I urge you to reopen the ports of entry in Montana to pre-pandemic hours, and stand ready to assist your efforts to strengthen security and trade across the northern border.”

Tester first called for the northern border to fully re-open in May, urging the Biden Administration to work with Canadian officials to swiftly and safely open the border. He followed up with a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pressing the Administration to move forward with the Canadian reopening in a “safe, fair, and efficient manner.” In November, the Biden Administration heeded Tester’s call and reopened the border to vaccinated travelers.

Senator Tester is continuing to push for a full reopening of the northern border. He urged DHS to allow all truck drivers and other essential travel across the northern border. He also opposed efforts to lift Title 42 and increase immigration processing without a comprehensive plan in place to maintain staffing and security along the northern border.

Montana shares a 545 mile border with Canada and is home to many border towns whose economies rely on Canadian trade and commerce. As the summer season approaches, Montanans will increasingly rely on cross-border trade to meet their agricultural needs. 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 in 2018, representing 42 percent of the state’s total goods exports.

Securing the northern border and ensuring continued 24-hour operation at ports of entry are among Senator Tester’s top priorities in Congress. As the former top Democrat on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Tester has worked on projects like Operation Stonegarden, which provides funding and resources to state, local, and Tribal law enforcement agencies focusing on increasing preparedness, coordination, and effectiveness along the northern border.

Tester’s full letter can be found HERE.