HAVRE, Mont. — The road that leads to the Willow Creek Port of Entry about 40 minutes north of the "crown jewel of the Hi-Line" offers nothing but the open sky and the seemingly endless plains that lead right to the U.S.-Canadian border.
I asked the Border Patrol agent I was with what was the unique challenge facing the agency in its sector.
"The vastness," he replied. Looking out the window, one could easily see that was certainly the case. The vastness of the Montana plains is a double-edged sword. Unlike the southern border, which I have become very familiar with, the security infrastructure, like walls and roads, is not there for the Border Patrol agents to take advantage of in the north, making patrolling the area a bit more difficult. That's not to say that agents do not have their fair share of ATVs and dirt bikes, but rough terrain is rough terrain.
But those who might want to attempt to illegally enter the United States from Canada have nothing but that same vastness to greet them, and, I'm told, those who do attempt to traverse the plains more often than not simply give up.
Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT), the state's sole representative in the House, decided to make the trek to the Hi-Line portion of the state to hear firsthand what the Border Patrol agents in his state need during a time when the federal agency is being stretched thin due to the ongoing crisis down south. While he and his staff attended a briefing, I was given a tour of the area and even allowed to use the training simulator. The scenario I was given was responding to an active school shooter. Having never done such training before, I am happy to report I was able to take down the hostiles without any additional loss of life.
Townhall Media/Julio Rosas
Another such challenge facing Border Patrol agents in the Havre Sector is the relative lull in their daily operations, which understandably can lead to complacency, a mindset they have to constantly be on guard against.
Due to the remoteness of the Montana wilderness, Border Patrol is happy to receive any help from those who live close to Canada. Because they are often ranchers and farmers, they are acutely aware of anything that looks suspicious. If such disturbances are noticed, they call Border Patrol. While not close to the situation unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border, it was a large topic of discussion simply because it certainly affected their operations.
To help alleviate the manpower strain in the southern sectors, Border Patrol agents in the Havre Sector help to process the apprehended illegal immigrants by doing the paperwork virtually with the immigrant in question appearing before a web camera. A group of Havre Border Patrol agents had recently returned from a trip in the south, as it is common for U.S. Customs and Border Protection to pull manpower from the north during surges.
In 2020, COVID-19 had "dried up" most of the relatively little illegal crossings the Havre Sector agents usually deal with.
While not as exciting and depressing as my recent trip to the Rio Grande Valley Sector, the Border Patrol agents perform their necessary jobs in the north, through the weather and remote vastness of Big Sky Country.