BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Congressman Brian Higgins says Americans “are in desperate need of a plan to reconnect with our Canadian neighbors.”
In a bipartisan effort with Rep. Elise Stefanik, the two co-chairs of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus are sending several recommendations to President Joe Biden on how to safely reopen the border between the U.S. and Canada.
“For communities like western New York, a trip across the border feels like a trip across the street,” Higgins said.
Nearly one year ago, in March 2020, the border between the two countries closed to non-essential travel. Pandemic-related restrictions have continued since then.
“I have worked tirelessly with our counterparts in Canada on this issue, as it continues to impact North Country businesses, families, and communities,” Stefanik says. “Today we’ve outlined tangible steps the Biden Administration can take to immediately relieve the hardships placed on border communities while charting a clear pathway forward.”
24 members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle have signed the letter.
“…as we approach one year of restricted travel, we also must recognize the significant impact these restrictions have had on individuals, families, businesses, and communities on both sides of the border. The continued ritual of monthly extensions without substantive signs of collaboration or progress only increases uncertainty and amplifies hardship for the border communities we represent. Since the onset of the restrictions, we have been adamant that preserving the deep social and economic bond shared between the U.S. and Canada necessitates a clear pathway forward.”Excerpt from letter to President Biden
Here are actions being proposed by members of Congress:
- Establish a bilateral plan for restoring travel
- Prioritize vaccines and testing for all CBP staff
- Allow for families to safely reunite
- Develop a policy for property owners
- Ensure reciprocal access to transit through boundary waters
Just last week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling for the governments of the U.S. and Canada to work together on a plan to be delivered within two weeks.
There are more than 5,500 miles of border between the U.S. and Canada. According to Higgins’ office, “more than 400,000 people and over $1.6 billion in goods cross the northern border daily through over 120 ports of entry.”