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Forum Editorial: U.S. should resume pre-pandemic hours of operation at border with Canada

Canada has resumed normal hours of operation at its border crossing stations. There's no reason the United State's can't do the same and restore pre-pandemic hours of operation to smooth the flow of people and goods.

Editorial FSA
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Canada is North Dakota’s top foreign export market. North Dakota exported $6 billion in goods to Canada in 2019. Almost 365,000 trucks crossed the border to enter North Dakota from Manitoba last year.

The two countries made significant investments to streamline border crossings between Pembina and Emerson, Manitoba, one of the largest crossings between the United States and Canada.

But the flow of goods and people across the international border was slowed by precautions, including reduced hours of operation at border crossing stations, during the pandemic. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol’s reductions in hours ranged from four to six hours at nine crossings and one hour at a tenth.

Those are significant reductions that crimp commerce between these two closely interconnected countries. And they’re no longer warranted.

Now that the coronavirus pandemic has waned significantly, Customs and Border Patrol should move swiftly to restore pre-pandemic hours of operation at the crossings along the northern border, as Gov. Doug Burgum is urging.

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One clear indication that conditions now can allow for business as usual along the border: Canada has resumed its pre-pandemic hours of operation at its border crossings.

There is no reason the United States can’t join Canada in resuming normal border operations.

Unfortunately, when North Dakota tourism officials asked Customs and Border Patrol officials when they plan to resume pre-pandemic hours, they were told there were no plans to do so.

As Burgum said in a letter to Customs and Border Patrol officials, “This is unacceptable.”

Businesses are dealing with the highest inflation in more than 40 years. They’re also still struggling with supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages.

With conditions like those, the Biden administration should be doing everything it can to remove bottlenecks and ease the pressures on businesses in order to support the economy.

Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol officials — including Commissioner Chris Magnus, a former Fargo police chief — should move quickly to resume normal operations along the northern border.

Editorials represent the views of Forum management and the Editorial Board.

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