Peterson Bristles at CBP’s Dismissive Treatment of Minnesotans Living Near the Border

May 31, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON- House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson is astounded with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) continued dismissive attitude towards Minnesota residents living near the norther border after the agency failed to incorporate local community input during a recent review over the reduction of service hours at the Lancaster, MN and Roseau, MN Ports of Entry.

Local manufacturing plants and business owners, hospital administrators, Canadian Members of Parliament, Roseau and Lancaster elected officials, and local Chambers of Commerce have urged CBP to return these ports to normal operating hours.

“It is ridiculous that CBP failed to listen to local leaders and businesses,” said Peterson. “Canada figured this out and there’s no reason we can’t either. CBP is going to learn that Congress is a co-equal branch of government and that their arrogance towards people living in rural areas will not be tolerated.

On January 2018, CBP began a reduction in service hours at two ports along the U.S.-Canadian border in northern Minnesota. The Lancaster, MN port was reduced from 8:00am-10:00pm down to 8:00am-6:00pm (during the winter months) or 8:00am-8:00pm (during the summer months.) Roseau, MN was reduced from 8:00am-midnight down to 8:00am-8:00pm year round. These reductions had immediate consequences on the Minnesotans and Canadian citizens who rely on a working border for commerce and safety reasons.

In reaction to this reduction, Congressman Peterson wrote letters to CBP, submitted statements at two town halls, proposed alternative solutions, attended local meetings between Roseau, Lancaster, and CBP officials, and finally arranged a Washington, DC meeting between senior CBP officers, local stakeholders, and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson. Despite these advocacy efforts, CBP recently announced the agency will maintain the reduction in service hours.

Contrary to the existence of these letters, town halls, and meetings, CBP wrote in its recent decision, “The Seattle Field Office has received no complaints—written, electronic, or telephonic—since reduced hours went into effect. At the March 2019 meeting, Roseau County and the City of Roseau officials as well as other stakeholders did not voice to CBP representatives any disruptions affecting appreciable segments of the community although they did note several examples of inconveniences to individuals and small groups such as a bowling league.” Meanwhile, CBP continues to divert much-needed personnel from the northern to southern border.

As the Member of Parliament for Provencher (Manitoba), I was very disappointed to hear that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has indicated they will not extend border crossing hours in Minnesota to match the hours at the corresponding Canadian crossings. Many Manitobans use these crossings daily to shop, visit family and to travel to their places of employment in the United States. The reduction in operating hours, made in 2017, restrict evening travel to the U.S. and have had a significant impact on the economies of communities on both sides of the border. In 2018, Canadians faced a similar situation when the federal government decided to reduce the hours of operation for several Canadian border crossings along the Minnesota border. Due to public outcry, like we have seen in the U.S., the Canadian government reversed their decision and the border crossing hours on the Canadian side remained unchanged. I would encourage the American Government to match the Canadian hours of operation so that the free flow of traffic can be restored for residents on both sides of the border.”-MP Ted Falk, Canada

“The CBP has not addressed any of the items requested by Chair Thompson at our meeting held on April 10th. Rather, they continue to “justify” their decision without using any substantiated data, and without any consultation with our local communities. Then, to add insult to injury, they have the audacity to claim that they have received no complaints on the reduced hours! It continues to amaze me how a Federal Agency can make any decision they want, whenever they want, without any apparent recourse to those they supposedly serve.  What a joke.”- Jeff Pelowski, Mayor, Roseau, Minnesota