Congressman Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, who serves as co-chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, released the following statement in response to multiple news reports indicating the travel ban will be extended between the U.S. and Canada:
“This Administration has to understand that we won’t have a healthy economy until we have a healthy country and that starts with taking this virus seriously. Western New York businesses and families have been devastated by the border closure. We miss the free flow of people across the border and the mutual benefits it brings to our neighboring countries, but due to President Trump’s irresponsible and chaotic handling of COVID-19, we respect and understand Canada’s position. This is just one of the consequences of the President’s failed response to this pandemic.”
Canada averages less than 800 new COVID-19 cases a day, a rate that is currently higher than in previous weeks, while the U.S. is currently seeing around 40,000 new cases daily. The U.S. has 4.25% of the world’s population, but now represents over 21% of the world’s deaths due to COVID.
The border between the U.S. and Canada first closed due to the pandemic on March 24. Crossing restrictions have previously been extended multiple times. The first extension was through May 20, then June 22, July 21, and Aug. 21, with the current order set to expire Sept. 21.
Higgins spoke about the border closure during a House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee hearing last week.
“The fact of the matter is, the poor handling of this pandemic by the federal government is as clear as it could be,” he said. “Twenty-five percent of the deaths from COVID-19 are Americans globally, with only 5% of the world’s population. The world is closed to Americans, and to America. Americans aren’t welcome in Canada; Americans aren’t welcome in 27 European countries.”
Higgins later said, “The United States federal government response was slow, sloppy, and adversarial. I represent an area that sits on the Canadian border, both the City of Buffalo and the City of Niagara Falls. I’m trying to get the border open with Canada. There is only one statistic that matters every single morning when they reevaluate that, and that is the number of cases that you have per 100,000 population, and we in the United States, our COVID-19 cases are seven times that which is in Canada today.”
Higgins has been vocal about the impact of the shutdown on Western New York families and the economy. He fought to expand essential crossings to allow people to check on property and be with family. He is also calling on the administration to develop a framework to prepare for reopening.