CBP pilot project aims to make U.S. entry more efficient in Lake of the Woods area
NORTHWEST ANGLE, Minn. — U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations kicked off a remote reporting pilot project Monday with Congressman Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), and six resorts located at the Northwest Angle.
This pilot project addresses a pressing issue for a community that depends heavily on tourism. Fishermen and outdoorsmen from around the country travel to Lake of the Woods with their families to enjoy incredible fishing experiences. Oftentimes fishing guides and their guests travel into Ontario, Canada, which prompts border security checks by U.S. Customs and Border Protection upon return. The current system of utilizing three available Outlying Area Reporting Stations (OARS) is outdated and challenging to access.
The new pilot program, which was soft launched Aug. 12 at select resorts, is designed to change all of that. Now visitors can simply use tablets, loaded with a reporting app, at participating resorts to report their arrival and video conference with CBP Officers located at the Warroad, Minnesota, Port of Entry.
“From an officer standpoint this is much needed technology,” said Director of Field Operations Michele James. “Having that clarity in the video conference coupled with the traveler’s information from the app is strengthening border security in these remote areas while facilitating legitimate travel and trade.”
Phase two of the pilot is making the app available for all devices that are capable of 4G/LTE or WiFi. Phase two will enable frequent travelers to construct a profile within the app so the information required by CBP is readily available to the traveler to submit for their video conference when they cross.
Phase three of the pilot will be the replacement of the current OARS facilities with climate controlled buildings housing tablets loaded with the app.
The kickoff event on Monday was well attended by CBP representatives to include Seattle Field Office Director Michele James, Rep. Collin C. Peterson, and congressional representation from Sens. Franken and Klobuchar, along with resort owner and individuals excited for the changes.
“Convenience at the local destination will enhance our business model with the Canadian market while making it much more conducive for our core guest base,” said Angle Inn Lodge owner Debra Kellerman.
The pilot technology at the Northwest Angle is currently available at six resorts, a number that will expand as modifications to the app are worked out. Resorts now offering the technology are Jerry’s Bar and Restaurant, Flag Island Resort, Sunset Lodge, Angle Inn Lodge, Angle Outpost, and Jake’s Northwest Angle.