Federal & state leaders say US-Canada border communities are harmed economically by visa-like requirement
Congressman Brian Higgins, New York State Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt and New York State Assemblyman Angelo Morinello are calling on Canada to end what they call “rigorous and unnecessary” preclearance requirements on Americans crossing the northern border.
In similar letters issued by the federal and state leaders to Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., they write, “Americans and Canadians are frustrated and confused by Canada’s ‘preclearance policy,’ especially the use of the new ‘ArriveCAN’ app. Many Americans and Canadians have realized crossing the border is too difficult due to these policies, and have ultimately decided not to do so.”
According to U.S. Department of Transportation statistics that measure crossings into the U.S., in May of 2022 a total of 479,673 people crossed into the U.S. through one of the four Buffalo-Niagara Falls ports by bus, personal vehicle, train, or on foot. By comparison, prior to the pandemic, in May of 2019, a total of 929,927 people crossed into the U.S. at Western New York crossings, a 48% decrease.
Higgins, Ortt and Morinello argue ArriveCAN, the Canadian government’s system that requires both Americans and Canadians crossing the border into Canada to input mandatory information within 72-hours prior to travel, is “a burdensome visa-like prerequisite never-before imposed between the two friendly nations.”
The leaders note the impact this has on the Niagara region’s economy, “According to the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, more than 650,000 jobs in New York State depend on trade investment with Canada. This is especially critical in Western New York, where our economy is strongly tied to our strong partnership with our Canadian neighbors. The border restrictions implemented by the Canadian government put that economic activity at risk.”
Higgins’ Western New York district includes the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and borders Southern Ontario. Ortt’s district covers all of Niagara and Orleans counties, bordering Lake Ontario, as well as a portion of Monroe County. Morinello represents portions of Erie and Niagara counties bordering the Niagara River.