Pembina, North Dakota, is a small town of approximately 600 people that is also the oldest European-American community in the Dakotas. It is located in the northeast corner of North Dakota, close to both the Canadian border and the Minnesota state line.
Pembina is home to the busiest border crossing in North Dakota and the fifth busiest crossing along the Canadian border. Pembina serves as a major port connecting the U.S. with Canada at Emerson, Manitoba, and processing more truck traffic than all other ports of entry in North Dakota combined. Traffic at this crossing can be quite heavy, with southbound trucks backing up for one to two miles at the start of the week. Pembina also sees a fair amount of tourist traffic as Canadian residents cross the border to shop or watch sports matches in North Dakota. To accommodate demand, the border crossing is open 24 hours per day, seven days a week.
Varied Job Duties at the Pembina Border Crossing
As part of the Department of Homeland Security, United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for enforcing immigration and commerce laws. Border Patrol agents also secure the border against criminal activity. Along the Canadian border, monitoring for the smuggling of contraband such as drugs, weapons and money is particularly important.
Pembina Station is part of the Grand Forks Sector of the CBP, which staffs stations across Minnesota and North Dakota. Currently, there are approximately 220 agents in the Grand Forks sector. Fifty of those agents are stationed at Pembina. Border Patrol agents at Pembina monitor 102 miles of land border between North Dakota and Manitoba.
Because of the amount of international commerce, Pembina serves as a service port. Customs and Border Patrol officers perform a full range of import/export related functions at a service port, including inspections, collections and verification. The Pembina Border Crossing also offers programs to assist travelers in traversing the border more easily, enrolling U.S. citizens in Trusted Traveler programs like NEXUS and Global Entry. Border Patrol agents also train civilians through the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Citizen’s Academy and offer trainings to the international business community on NAFTA and other relevant topics.
Working for Customs and Border Protection
Candidates for Border Patrol jobs must meet high standards of conduct and fitness. Candidates are evaluated through a number of means, including a fitness test, background check, language aptitude test and sometimes a polygraph test. Agents may be hired at several levels, depending on education and experience. Entry-level positions typically have starting salary of $38,619 (level GL-5). Many employees earn overtime. As federal employees, Border Patrol agents also qualify for federal benefits packages, which include health care, plans, life insurance and retirement benefits.