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Operating hours to be temporarily extended at three North Dakota ports of entry

According to a press release from Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agreed to temporarily expand operating hours at the Maida, Northgate and Sherwood ports.

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A car crosses the border into the United States from Canada at Pembina, North Dakota on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021. Eric Hylden / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Three U.S-Canadian border crossings in North Dakota will soon have extended hours, North Dakota’s congressional delegation announced on Wednesday, Sept. 21.

According to a press release from Sens. John Hoeven and Kevin Cramer and Rep. Kelly Armstrong, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agreed to temporarily expand operating hours at the Maida, Northgate and Sherwood ports. Pending agreement from the Canada Border Services Agency, the hours of operation at the three ports will be expanded temporarily by two hours, to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. At present, those three ports are open daily 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

In a letter to Hoeven, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Chris Magnus said CBP Office of Field Operations leadership agreed to temporarily expand the hours in Maida, Northgate and Sherwood following a conversation with Hoeven about the reduced port of entry hours. The extended hours will be in place for 120 days to analyze the impact on port of entry operations.

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Magnus’ letter was in response to a July letter sent by North Dakota’s congressional delegation asking for pre-pandemic hours to be restored. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum also wrote to Magnus and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in April and July, outlining the economic impact of restricted crossing hours and asking for pre-pandemic hours to be restored.

In his response to the congressional delegation’s request to restore hours, Magnus said 10 crossings in North Dakota were identified to maintain reduced hours based on traffic volume data from fiscal year 2019, including Maida, Northgate and Sherwood.

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“The continued reduction of operating hours aligns with a CBP-wide effort to optimize service, not only in North Dakota, but along all the Nation’s land borders,” said Magnus. “The necessary reduction of late-night hours at POEs with little or no traffic enables CBP to align additional staffing during peak hours, in turn allowing CBP to better serve the public and protect our country.”

At the end of the 120 day trial period in Maida, Northgate and Sherwood, the Seattle Field Office, which oversees North Dakota ports of entry, will evaluate traffic volume and make a recommendation on hours for the locations moving forward, said Magnus.

In Wednesday’s release, the members of the North Dakota congressional delegation restated support for restoring full hours at all of North Dakota’s ports of entry.

“Today’s announcement is an important step,” said Hoeven. “However, more needs to be done, and we will continue to press CBP and the CBSA to return to pre-pandemic levels of operation at our northern ports of entry.”

“While it’s encouraging to see the temporary expansion of hours at the Maida, Northgate and Sherwood ports of entry, Customs and Border Protection’s work is far from over,” said Cramer. “Temporary won’t cut it and our neighbors to the north, Canada, must do the same. North Dakotans’ ability to conduct cross-border activity remains unnecessarily restricted as CBP refuses to return to pre-pandemic hours at our ports of entry.”

“We need to build on this development by expanding access at additional ports of entry and encouraging CBSA to match them,” said Armstrong. “We will continue working to expand trade and cooperation with our northern ally.”

Burgum also welcomed the CBP decision to expand operating hours at the ports.

“The reduction in hours of operation on North Dakota’s 310-mile border with Canada has caused significant hardship on the movement of citizens, goods and tourists between our two nations,” Burgum said. “We appreciate this temporary expansion of hours at three ports of entry and will continue to urge CBP and Homeland Security to restore pre-pandemic hours at all ports of entry to ensure the secure and steady flow of people, goods and services between North Dakota and our northern neighbors and friends.”

Ingrid Harbo joined the Grand Forks Herald in September 2021.

Harbo covers Grand Forks region news, and also writes about business in Grand Forks and the surrounding area.

Readers can reach Harbo at 701-780-1124 or iharbo@gfherald.com. Follow her on Twitter @ingridaharbo.
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