Montana's northern next door neighbor is Canada. And, even though pandemic restrictions are ending elsewhere, the ports of entry are still not completely opened. Montana Senator Jon Tester wants that changed. He has written to the Border Patrol for action.

In a news release Monday, Tester again urged the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner to resume "pre-pandemic" hours at all ports of entry. This is not the first time he's requested the change. He asked for increased operations a year ago, last May.

Tester wrote in his letter to the CBP, "Expanding the hours of operation for ports of entry across the northern border to pre-pandemic hours, including implementing extended summer hours and returning to 24-hour operations at certain ports, is critical for the economies of rural communities across northern Montana. These communities depend on trade and commerce with our Canadian neighbors."

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The Biden Administration reopened the border to vaccinated travelers late last year, but Tester also had asked the Department of Homeland Security to allow all truck drivers and other essential travel across the Canada-U.S. border.

The Canadian Trade Commission and the U.S. trade representative both noted the economic impact caused by border closures. An earlier report said that in 2018, Montana exported almost $700 million in goods to Canada, which was estimated to be over 40 percent of the state's total exports that year.

In a related subject - the Southern border with Mexico - Tester opposes lifting the Title 42 rule, (which would allow increased immigration) without a comprehensive plan to also maintain staffing and security along the northern Canadian border. Tester said that he would assist in "efforts to strengthen security and trade across the northern border."

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