Says questions remain about testing capacity & costs, border staffing & logistics
With Canada’s plan to reopen the border to United States citizens less than a week away, Congressman Brian Higgins “is raising serious concerns about the lack of information and planning coming from the United States government,” his team said.
In separate letters to the White House and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Higgins is pressing for the U.S. government to address unanswered questions related to testing in border communities and logistics at land ports of entry.
In a letter to the White House COVID-19 response coordinator, Higgins asks what the U.S. is doing to ensure border communities have the testing capacity to meet the new Canadian requirement for proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Higgins points out the need to make sure tests are available to meet the demand and the need for results to be delivered swiftly to allow for compliance with Canada’s 72-hour requirement.
Higgins goes on to question if the testing that is necessary for crossing the border will be free to Americans and reimbursable to providers. His camp said testing in the U.S. is provided at no cost for Americans with symptoms, but there doesn’t seem to be uniform guidance for those seeking a COVID-19 test for travel purposes.
In a separate communication to Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, Higgins is demanding answers to questions related to adequate border staffing, as well as guidance and training to support personnel responsible for carrying out the logistics associated with border operations and management in weeks and months ahead.
Higgins said, “If the Government of Canada – representing a country with a population one-tenth of ours – can devise a plan to safely admit millions of fully vaccinated Americans to their country, then surely so can the United States of America. Such a plan must account for the host of operational issues which will surely arise.”
He added, “It is essential that the United States reopens its land border with Canada – continual delay is unacceptable. To ensure this reopening happens without unnecessary delays requires addressing these obvious issues beforehand and publishing a plan with clear and obtainable objectives based on science and data. Such a plan requires the administration to be honest and direct with the American people and the members of Congress who represent them about when we can expect northern border operations to return to normal.”
Higgins serves as co-chair of the Canada-U.S. interparliamentary group and the congressional northern border caucus. His Western New York district borders Southern Ontario and includes the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls.