NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Years of debate over the Southern U.S. Mexico border can make it easy to overlook that North Dakota shares a 310-mile border with Canada.
There are 18 border crossings along the line, only three of which operate 24/7, with the busiest being the Pembina-Emerson Border Entry.
KX News went to the Bottineau Border Patrol Station to talk with agents who are charged with the critical responsibility of securing the vast and remote sections of the border between the ports of entry.
The Northern Border is nearly three times longer than the Southern Border but has far fewer agents.
“Criminal organizations are always going to search for a weakness,” said Border Patrol Agent in Charge, Adam Wright.
Border Patrol Agent in Charge Adam Wright patrolled the Southern Border for 7 years before moving to North Dakota in 2010.
Bottineau Border Patrol Station is a part of the Grand Forks Sector. The sector has 200 agents to patrol 861 miles of the Northern Border.
“Our agents do an excellent job at mitigating that efforts through our multi-layered approach to border enforcement, utilizing our international, federal, state, and local partners, as well as citizens,” explained Wright.
In 2019, the nationwide total of border patrol agents was 19,648. Of those, 16,731 were detailed to the Southern Border.
“I think we’re all aware of the situation on the Southwest Border, and Northern Border agents have been assisting in operations for going on our second year now, or into our second year. So, it does affect us a bit in our operations,” explained Wright.
U.S. District Attorney Jennifer Puhl told KX News that arrests and prosecutions have declined in 2022, and, quote “it’s because a lot of our border patrol agents are being detailed to the southern border for support.”
Border Patrol Agent David Marcus patrolled the southern border for 6 years before being detailed to the Grand Forks Sector in 2018.
Because there are far fewer agents on the Northern Border, Marcus takes on more roles.
“When I got to the Northern Border I got to become certified in driving ATVs, and snowmobiles. Recently I got certified as a crewman to be able to be on watercraft,” said Marcus.
Marcus tells us they use a “Multi-Layer Risk Based Approach,” and citizens are a critical asset to border security.
“Anybody in North Dakota who lives close to the border, if you see something suspicious, you can be our eyes and ears out here,” said Marcus.
In September 2019, a farmer near the town of St. John caught an image of two subjects crossing the border on his game cam.
Bottineau Station notified local law enforcement, and the Rollete County Sheriff’s Department apprehended the illegal immigrants, showing how citizens and local law enforcement partners play a critical role in helping secure the border.
The Bottineau Border Patrol Station utilizes ATVs, snowmobiles, ground sensors, cameras, drones, jet skis, and boats to secure the border.
Boaters can legally cross the border on lakes as long as they do not dock.
However, when it is iced over, they cannot cross because it is considered land surface.