Higgins, Stefanik want border leaders to drop some COVID safety restrictions

North Country

WASHINGTON (WIVB/WWTI) — The U.S. will reopen its border to Canadians on Monday, and some New York lawmakers are fighting COVID mandates put in place by leaders on both sides.

On Monday, Reps. Elise Stefanik wrote to President Joe Biden to take a stand on vaccine mandates for Border Patrol agents. Stefanik—representing the Northern Border, and having co-authored the letter with Texas Rep. Brian BabinBabin from the Southern Border—said a mandate “threatens already declining morale” for these agents.

Meanwhile, Rep. Brian Higgins wrote a letter to the Canadian ambassador asking to loosen another big restriction before the border reopens. He wants leaders north of the border to drop their testing requirements. He says Canada is requiring all travelers to show proof of vaccination and a negative COVID test, while the U.S. only requires travelers to be vaccinated.

Higgins says Canada’s testing rule could keep some from making the trip across the international bridges. “It’s very expensive, it’s intrusive and it’s an unnecessary step,” he said. “Vaccines, being fully vaccinated, should provide you with the protection you need from getting seriously ill from COVID.”

Stefanik’s letter addressed illegal crossing at the Southern Border, saying that Border Patrol agents have been “forced” into “no-notice deployment,” which has caused “disruptions and “burdens” on these individuals. She also claimed that border crossings have left portions of the Northern Border understaffed and “inadequately protected.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who has been endorsed by GOP leaders to replace Rep. Liz Cheney, arrives for a candidates forum, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Republicans will vote Friday morning for a new chair for the House Republican Conference. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Stefanik said additional mandates would cause more agents to lose their jobs. “I have heard from several of my constituents who work to protect our Northern Border, but who have been displaced from their homes to work long hours to fight Joe Biden’s crisis on the Southern Border,” read a press release from her office. “Instead of rewarding them for their service, this Administration is threatening to terminate our Border Patrol agents who wish to make their own medical decisions.”

In the letter to President Biden, the lawmakers requested a suspension of COVID vaccine mandates for Border Patrol agents, data on Border Patrol agents vaccination rates and natural immunity, steps the Biden Administration is taking to protect agents and other Americans from COVID-19 exposure, and a determination of the impact of mass-termination of Border Patrol agents on national security.

The full letter can be read on Rep. Stefanik’s website.

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