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Higgins' measure on northern border travel included in Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

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Fri, Jul 17th 2020 11:00 am

Language directs development of binational strategy related to family and property reunification

Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, announced the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year 2021 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which included report language requested by Higgins related to essential traveler exceptions at the northern border.

The language reads as follows: “The Committee directs the Secretary (of Homeland Security) to work with the Government of Canada to establish and maintain the following exceptions to the US-Canada non-essential travel restrictions: family reunification and travel to secure property with the appropriate quarantining measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

The Department of Homeland Security has the authority to develop border management protocols for a prolonged pandemic without a legislative directive, but it has not done so since the border first closed on March 24 due to COVID-19. It was announced July 16 that the existing shutdown, which expires July 21, will be extended through Aug. 20.

Higgins, who serves as co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and U.S. Canada Interparlementary Group, has been pushing for the U.S. and Canada to develop further guidelines for crossing allowances related to family and property unification during a pandemic, leading a bipartisan letter signed by 29 members of Congress.

The House is currently in the process of developing 12 appropriation bills funding government operations and programs for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Several appropriation bills are scheduled for a vote next week. A vote on the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill has yet to be scheduled.

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