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Higgins calls on state & federal government to resolve Trusted Traveler differences

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Tue, Jun 9th 2020 03:20 pm

Two weeks remain in existing US-Canada border restrictions; congressman wants Nexus suspension orders to be lifted when border reopens

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is calling for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to continue to negotiate with New York state government in good faith to resolve the suspension of enrollment and renewal of Trusted Traveler program participation for New York residents.

In a letter to the acting CBP commissioner, Higgins wrote, “Although travel restrictions have been extended along the Norther Border until June 22nd, it is necessary to revisit this suspension now in preparation for the border re-opening.”

In February, the Trump administration executed a policy excluding all New York residents from the Trusted Traveler program, which allows for expedited crossings over the U.S./Canada border after enrollment in the NEXUS, Global Entry or FAST programs designed to pre-screen travelers.

Higgins objected to the move, saying law-abiding Americans and northern border commerce should not be collateral damage in a policy dispute.

His camp said, “No new progress has been made in negotiating a compromise to the dispute regarding relevant information needed by CBP officers to certify that a traveler is low risk and does not present a potential risk for terrorism or criminality.”

Higgins argued the seamless flow of people across the northern border can play a significant role in economic revival as the two countries recover from the economic implications of the COVID-19 health crisis: “Western New York and Southern Ontario are interdependent economies with close community ties. The free movement of people and goods are critical to the community’s future. U.S. Customs and Border Protection must resolve its dispute with the state of New York in a way that does not harm Americans and legitimate trade. Our communities are transitioning through an unprecedented time and they need stability and clarity moving forward on these important programs that assist in daily activities.”

Travel across the U.S./Canada border is currently restricted to essential travel due to the global pandemic. The binational agreement to restrict travel is set to expire in two weeks. Higgins has also been pushing for the definition of essential travel to be expanded to allow for crossings to visit family, check on property or conduct legitimate business.

Higgins serves as co-chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus. His Western New York district, which encompasses the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, borders Southern Ontario and includes three automobile and two rail crossings between the U.S. and Canada.

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