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Higgins & Stefanik call on US & Canadian governments to develop border reopening guidance

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Fri, Jun 12th 2020 02:25 pm

Northern Border Caucus co-chairs say a plan is needed to safely allow for reasonable travel across border

Congress members Brian Higgins (NY-26) and Elise Stefanik (NY-21), who serve as co-chairs of the House of Representatives Northern Border Caucus, are calling on the U.S. and Canadian governments to develop nuanced and particularized guidance for reopening the northern border.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security secretary and the Canadian minister of public safety, Higgins and Stefanik wrote, “We appreciate that the incidence of COVID-19 at communities along the border varies and we respect the public health imperative; yet, a one-size-fits-all approach toward allowing travel across the border has the impact of keeping communities apart. There must be bi-national coordination to develop a plan to safely allow for reasonable travel taking into account public health considerations but acknowledging our unique interconnected economies.”

On March 24, the Department of Homeland Security imposed travel restrictions at land ports of entry between the U.S. and Canada, limiting crossings to “essential travel” due to the ongoing pandemic. A second notice extended travel restrictions through May 20. A third agreement extended northern border restrictions through 11:59 p.m. on June 22. Published reports indicate restrictions will be extended again into July.

Under the current order, “essential travel” includes:

  • U.S. citizens returning to the U.S.
  • Individuals traveling for medical purposes
  • Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions or work
  • Individuals traveling for emergency or government response
  • Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g. cargo drivers)
  • Members of the military

Earlier this week, the government of Canada indicated it would allow individuals to reunite with their spouses, parents and dependent children, if visitors observed a 14-day quarantine.

Higgins and Stefanik serve as co-chairs of the Northern Border Caucus, Congress’s oldest and largest Congressional Member organization dealing with the U.S.-Canada relationship. Founded in 1994, this bipartisan group of members has acted to highlight policy concerns and issues affecting the economic, cultural, and political partnership between the U.S. and Canada.

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