The small town of Plentywood, Montana first made its name as a safe haven for outlaws and cattle ranchers during the rough and tumble days of the Wild West. Plentywood is a rural border town located in a sparsely populated part of the state. The border is shared with the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, which itself is not an area with a large population- outside of the city of Regina which has a population of 175,000 people and is located about 120 miles north of Plentywood.
This History of the Plentywood Station
The Plentywood border crossing station was established by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency in 1924. During that time the station was just as sub-office and only employed one full-time border agent. Before the establishment of the Plentywood sub-office, it was a normal occurrence for cattle ranchers to cross the border between the United States and Canada unhindered, but it raised concerns for the CBP because of the fact that criminals could pass across the border also unhindered and thus elude law enforcement and federal agencies that may be looking for them. Illegal immigration also became a concern later on down the road and lead to more agents being employed at the Plentywood border crossing station.
A new station was built in 2006 and serves as the main headquarters for the region, as the station in Billings, Montana is set the close. The station monitors approximately 56 miles of international border and also monitors much of the interior of the state immediately south of Plentywood.
Illegal Immigration in Plentywood
One of the primary responsibilities of the Plentywood station is to catch illegal immigrants. Because it is located in a rural area, it is an area that offers job opportunities for migrant farm workers. While most of the farm workers are in the country legally, some have managed to enter the country illegally.
Plentywood is located in the Havre sector of the CBP, so most of the border patrol jobs are focused on illegal immigration first, and drug smuggling second. Yet, the number of illegal aliens arrested in the Havre sector has fallen from 1,448 in 1999 to 270 in 2011, according to statistics provided in a CBP report done on the subject. The dip in illegal immigration has meant that border patrol agents in the area receive the education and training to perform other duties in coordination with local and federal law enforcement agencies.