MAIDA, N.D. — Reducing the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Port of Entry hours in Maida would hurt businesses, cause problems for farmers and interrupt family activities, said Peggy Fischer, who lives on the North Dakota side of the Canadian border.
Fischer, of Langdon, is one of about 65 people from both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border who attended a Wednesday, Nov. 6, town hall meeting about the CBP’s proposal to reduce the Maida Port of Entry hours by three — from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. to 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., beginning Nov. 24.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is proposing the reduction in hours so it can redirect staff to ports of entry, such as Pembina, N.D., that have higher commercial and individual traffic. There is minimal traffic at the Maida, Carbury and Antler ports of entry in North Dakota after 5 p.m., said Adele Fasano, Seattle Field Officer Director of Operations. That, along with being fiscally responsible with taxpayer money, were determining factors for the proposal to reduce hours at Maida, and at Carbury and Antler, which are towns to the west of Maida, Fasano said.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum issued a statement on Wednesday, Nov. 6, that urged the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Protection to maintain its schedule. While Burgum supports the efforts to be more efficient, he is concerned that a reduction in the hours of operation will negatively impact tourism, the transfer of goods and the local and regional economies, he said.
The proposed reduction in the hours at the Maida Port of Entry comes less than a year after the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol announced that the hours at the Hansboro and Sarles ports of entry would be reduced, Fischer said. At that time, travelers were told they could cross at Maida, which was open for 13 hours, she noted.
It’s not fair to reduce the hours in Maida, leaving the nearest port of entry west of the town 90 miles away in St. John , N.D., Fischer said.
“Between Towner and Cavalier counties, we'll have four ports in a row with reduced hours,” she said.
Meanwhile, Pembina County still will have two ports of entry open 14 hours and one open 24 hours, Fischer noted.
“Why is it just because it’s traffic count? Are our citizens over here less valued than the citizens over there?” Fischer asked.
Closing the border at 4 p.m. would impact Canadian farmers crossing the border to buy parts for their machinery, Fischer said.
“Farmers don’t shut down at 7,” she said.
Meanwhile, families who have relatives on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border and want to attend celebrations, such as weddings, birthday parties and graduations, would feel the effects of the reduced hours, Fischer said.
For Fischer, who has a lake home in Canada, the reduction in the Maida Port of Entry hours would mean that she would have to travel a circuitous route to get to the port at Walhalla, instead of simply crossing at the Maida Port of Entry a few miles north of Langdon, she said.