Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Homeland Security, today issued the following statement after Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that it would maintain the existing hours of operation for the port of entry at Maida, North Dakota. Hoeven urged CBP earlier this month to reconsider its decision to reduce the hours at three ports in the state, including Maida, Antler and Carbury.

Further, the senator pressed the agency to adhere to language he secured in the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations legislation that stressed the importance of remote ports of entry and the need to recruit and retain staff at these locations. Hoeven’s office also participated in the public meetings held by CBP on the reduced hours to help ensure the agency responded to local concerns.

“Maintaining CBP’s hours of operation at Maida is important for Cavalier County, as it is open later and provides important access for commerce, agriculture and transportation,” Hoeven said. “We remain concerned about the reduced hours at Antler and Carbury. We will continue working to address recruitment and retention issues at CBP to help ensure the efficient flow of goods and people between North Dakota and Canada.”

In order to address staffing issues at CBP facilities, Hoeven recently helped introduce the CBP Hiring and Retention Innovation Act, bipartisan legislation to improve the hiring and retention of CBP agents and officers. The bill would create a CBP Innovation Council, which consists of representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, labor organizations representing border agents and officers and outside experts.

The council would be responsible for the development of pilot programs to improve hiring and retention through alternative work schedules, transportation support and incentive pay, among other things. At least one pilot program would be required to focus on severe workforce shortages at ports of entries and another for Border Patrol duty locations.