Gov. Doug Burgum is again calling on the federal government to restore pre-pandemic hours of operation at several ports of entry on the U.S.-Canada border where hours were reduced in April 2020.
The governor reiterated the request in a letter sent Friday to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner Chris Magnus. Burgum noted that while the number of persons entering the United States through North Dakota ports of entry has increased by 40% since April 1 when the federal government rescinded the need for fully vaccinated travelers into the U.S. to be tested, the current number is still 50% below pre-pandemic levels.
Burgum expressed his gratitude for a meeting last month with Magnus in which the commissioner indicated the CBP is open to dialogue on the crossing hours at the 310-mile border between North Dakota and Canada.
“Many of these North Dakota individuals and businesses rely heavily on their Canadian counterparts for multiple reasons in their daily lives, and limited hours at the majority of North Dakota’s border crossings have made these critical interactions much more difficult,” Burgum stated in the letter. “While the small expansion of hours after COVID-19 at North Dakota’s ports of entry has been a welcome development, it is imperative that hours of operation return to their pre-pandemic status immediately before further damage is done to the economies and well-being of our border communities.”
Burgum previously sent a letter to Magnus and Mayorkas in late April, in which Burgum noted that of the 10 U.S. ports of entry into North Dakota where hours were reduced, nine of the reductions ranged from four hours to six hours. The letter came after CBP informed the state Tourism Division it had no plans to change the hours at any ports of entry in North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, Idaho or Washington.