Tester, Hoeven Lead Bipartisan Effort Calling for Better Staffing & Security at the Northern Border

Senators urge Homeland Security appropriations leaders to help northern ports of entry resume pre-pandemic operating hours

Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) led a bipartisan group of senators urging the leaders of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Committee to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with the necessary resources to properly staff and secure the U.S.-Canada border in Fiscal Year 2023.

Tester and Hoeven outlined the importance of providing CBP with sufficient personnel, technology, and tools to secure the northern border and to alleviate the need for temporary duty assignments that draw northern border officers away from their posts. They also pushed for the full re-opening of northern border ports of entry to pre-pandemic hours to allow for accessible and lawful travel and trade.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents have the critical mission of protecting the American people by securing our borders,” the Senators wrote. “Continued temporary duty assignments take a significant toll on officers and agents as well as families assigned to northern border duties. We encourage the subcommittee to provide the necessary resources to ensure personnel on the northern border can fulfill their mission without the constant need for temporary duty assignments. Finally, [it is] essential to have ports of entry open to accommodate lawful travel between the United States and Canada. As we turn the corner on the pandemic, the subcommittee should ensure that CBP has the necessary resources to resume pre-pandemic operating hours at northern border ports of entry.”

Tester first called for the northern border to fully re-open in May 2021, 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 (DHS) Security 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.

Last Month, Tester grilled Secretary Mayorkas about the Department’s plans for retaining Customs and Border Protection agents, securing the northern border, and restoring U.S.-Canada points of entry to pre-pandemic operating times.

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.

Read Senator Tester’s letter HERE.