Yesterday, I took a group of students from my Immigration Law course to the Canadian border for a tour of the Pembina port of entry, the busiest POE on a stretch including all of Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho. On a particularly busy day, the port screens between 2,500 and 3,000 passenger vehicles and 800-1,000 commercial trucks.
An SCBPO (Senior CBP Officer) began the tour with a presentation about the Office of Field Operations. We saw two brief videos about the CBP and learned about the CBP training academy as well as the agency’s pay scale.
We also learned about how the Northern border differs from the Southern border. For example, while admissibility is a significant focus here, expedited removal is a relatively infrequent occurrence. The POE might see one every few months. The issuance of NTAs (notices to appear) in order to start full removal proceedings are even less common. That’s because the Pembina POE largely sees crossings by Canadian citizens as opposed to lawful permanent residents who would be exempt from expedited removal. Withdrawals, on the other hand, are a more daily occurrence.
Our tour of the port facility took us to the on-site firing range, a commercial-side booth (where officers screen truck drivers), the truck inspection garage (with its cage for locking up confiscated goods), the truck x-ray facility, the passenger vehicle inspection garage, the holding cells, and a passenger-side booth. At each point, our three CBP guides answered questions that gave us genuine insight into the breadth of “professional judgment” required to do their jobs.
Our guides also set up a truly unique and fun hands-on activity for our group. They took us to a car in the inspection garage, handed us tools, and instructed us to look for contraband. Our group discovered (with some guidance), two guns, a large block of drugs, money, and drug paraphernalia.
It was a wonderful learning experience.