The Least-Used Port of Entry Was Hannah, N.D.; Now It Is Ketchikan, Alaska

By David North on August 21, 2023

Our annual survey of the least-used ports of entry comes up this year with a new negative champion.

For years it was Hannah, N.D., which had all of two arriving aliens during each of the winter months of January through March 2022. Hannah is within 20 miles or so of other ports of entry. We figured the cost, during these months, to be $15,000 per inspection.

In 2023, so far, the least-used port is Ketchikan, Alaska, a location with some geographical oddities; it is on Revillagigedo Island in the southern part of the Alaska Panhandle. The island has no bridges to the Alaskan or Canadian mainland and Ketchikan is a frequent host to cruise ships. (It is also the birthplace of Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowksi (R)). In other words, if you get to Ketchikan you are in the U.S. but you cannot get further into the U.S. without using a plane or a ship.

There were 19 entrants to Ketchikan in January, an odd time to visit Alaska, and none since. In several years running, 2020, 2021, and 2022, for example, there were zero entrants. All this is according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Border Crossing/Entry Data series. The Covid-caused reduction in cruise travel probably is the reason for the years without any border-crossers. In those years Ketchikan did not have an entry in the DOT statistics, leaving Hannah at the bottom of the deck.

Our point here is that it does not make sense to operate a port-of-entry like Hannah when, with minor inconvenience to a handful of Canadians, they could be shunted to a nearby port. This, in turn, would allow DHS to re-allocate the Hannah inspectors to the understaffed southern border. Hannah sits in an almost empty prairie; the town’s population is 15.

The three or so inspectors at Hannah, of course, are presumably content to be where they are, rather than working at the chaotic Mexican border.

Geographic Trivia. While both entities are in the Pacific Ocean, the reader should not confuse Ketchikan’s Revillagigedo Island with the set of islands further south, well off the coast of Mexico, the Revillagigedo Islands.

Both the island, once a part of the Russian Empire, and the islands, once part of the Spanish Empire, were discovered by George Vancouver, an explorer for the British Empire. Both were named for Juan Vicente de Guemes, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo, then viceroy of New Spain (Mexico), presumably a friend of Vancouver’s.

The island is 10 percent or so smaller than New York’s Long Island, but has about 13,000 inhabitants, about 7.5 million fewer than Long Island. The islands’ population is 45, and serves as a minor base for the Mexican Navy.