Area legislators ask that decision be reversed

    State Representative Dan Fabian, R-Roseau and State Senator Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks have sent a letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, sharing their strong opposition to the current plan to reduce hours of operation at the Roseau and Lancaster ports of entry beginning next January.

    In the letter, released by the pair’s legislative offices, Fabian and Sen. Johnson express concerns over public safety, the economic well-being of local communities, and general opposition by residents who live near the border of Minnesota and Canada.

    The letter reads:

    “As state legislators representing northwest Minnesota which includes the communities of Roseau and Lancaster, we are writing in strong opposition to the current plan to reduce hours of operation at two Minnesota ports of entry beginning in January 2018.

     “Numerous constituents, local government leaders, businesses and health care workers in our community have a plethora of serious concerns, and it’s evident that CBP did not fully evaluate the issues surrounding the reduction of hours before making their decision. Coupled with calls to reverse the decision by our governor and members of the Minnesota Congressional delegation, we hope you will take this matter seriously and keep current hours of operation going forward.

     “The economic well-being of communities and public safety of residents on both sides of the border have been put in jeopardy by what we view as a short-sighted decision by CBP. For example, Roseau is home to the only hospital and emergency care center in the region that serves American residents of the Northwest Angle, as well as many Canadians living in Southeast Manitoba. Reducing hours at the border cuts down on people’s ability to get critical, life-saving care. What’s more, our area is home to many employers both large and small, and the great inconvenience done to employees crossing the border each day, as well as the damage done to our local economies and businesses could be severe if this decision is made permanent. And that’s not to mention the Canadians who come across the border regularly to shop, eat and patronize our community businesses. A reduction in hours could cause considerable and irreversible damage to Northwest Minnesota.

     “We are heartened to see that CBP is willing to hear from residents affected by this proposal, hosting two recent town halls in Roseau and Lancaster to gather input and feedback. We attended both meetings, and what we found from the hundreds of residents in attendance is that there is a united and unanimous opposition to the reduction of hours at our local ports of entry. What is clear is that reducing hours based solely on traffic across the border does not paint a fair or complete picture of the effects this will have on our communities and state as a whole. It is not too late to take into account the valid points and concerns put forth by area citizens, reevaluate this proposal and scrap it all together.

     “We appreciate your time and attention to this important matter, and are hopeful that CBP will reconsider their decision to reduce hours of operation at the Roseau and Lancaster ports of entry. These ports are vital to our economy, to the public safety of our citizens, and to the people who call northwest Minnesota home.”