Bilateral meeting reopens dialogue on matters of significant & mutual interest
Congressman Brian Higgins. D-NY-26, who serves as co-chair of the congressional northern border caucus, welcomed the bilateral meeting between President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In December, Higgins asked the incoming administration to prioritize coordination along the northern border. His team said the new administration has followed through.
Higgins said, “There is work to be done to repair the relationship, which suffered over the last four years; but the kinship between the United States and Canada is long and strong. President Biden’s swift actions and open dialogue demonstrates the value this administration places in the U.S.-Canada bond. Collaborative efforts related to COVID, trade, climate, security, equal rights and economic growth are globally significant and mutually beneficial to our nations and citizens.”
Biden’s first call with a foreign leader was with Trudeau during his first week in office. The virtual meeting with Trudeau tonight is the president’s first meeting with a foreign head of state.
The border between the U.S. and Canada initially closed to nonessential travel due to the pandemic in March. Restrictions continue to be in place today. Higgins repeatedly called for the previous administration to take a nuanced approach to border management rather than what he called a “one-size-fits-all shutdown that separates people from their families, property and businesses.”
During his first week in office, Biden issued an executive order addressing northern border restrictions, calling for U.S. departments to work with Canadian agencies and develop a plan to be delivered within 14-days. As a follow-up, Higgins led a bipartisan letter signed by 24 members of Congress sharing several recommendations with the Biden administration as federal agencies worked on the formulation of a border strategy. The recommendations include the development of plans to allow people to access property and reunite with family.
The U.S. and Canada share 5,525 miles of border, the longest land boundary between two countries in the world. When fully operational, more than 400,000 people and over $1.6 billion in goods cross the northern border daily through 120-plus ports of entry.
Higgins also serves on the House Budget and the Ways and Means committees, including a subcommittee on trade. 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.