U.S. Customs and Border Protection will follow through on its proposal to cut back hours of operation at the Port of Raymond starting April 14. The proposal, along with a series of listening sessions last week, is drawing criticism from Montana’s Washington, D.C. delegation.
On Tuesday Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte, both Republicans, fired off another letter to CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan demanding the agency postpone any final decision on changes in the hours at the ports at Raymond, Scobey, Opheim and Morgan.
CBP previously announced it planned to start implementing some of the reductions on April 14. On Wednesday the agency confirmed that beginning April 14, the Port of Raymond will open 6 a.m. to midnight. It currently operates 24 hours each day.
Daines said he and Gianforte are concerned the listening sessions CBP held along the Hi-Line last week did not allow the affected communities to express their opinions, adding “this flies in the face of representative government."
"These ports of entry are critical to our jobs and our economy of rural Montana," Daines said. "And I will continue demanding that Customs and Border Patrol listen to the community and keeps these ports open at full service."
Former Havre Legislator Bob Sivertsen attended all four of the town hall meetings last week. He echoed the concern that CBP was not interested in the opinions of Montanans and Canadians.
"How can they go against 99.99 percent of the people who favored….on both sides of the border… who favor keeping the ports open?" he said.
In March Montana’s Congressional delegation, including Democrat Senator Jon Tester, sent letters to CBP, pushing back when the agency’s announced plans to cut hours of operation.
Tester spokesman Dave Kuntz said the Senator followed up his March letter by meeting face-to-face with the commissioner on Tuesday, resisting any reduction in hours.
Daines and Gianforte suggest CBP delay any final decision until June 1.
CBP wrote in a press release Wednesday it's currently considering feedback it received for the Ports of Morgan, Scobey and Opheim and will announce its decision prior to June 1.
This is not the first time CBP has proposed slashing hours at these ports. The Obama Administration proposed the same cut backs in 2016 but abandoned the plan.