US Secretary of State Blinken & Canada Global Affairs Minister Joly meet in Ottawa this week
Ahead of bilateral meetings between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Canadian Global Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, Congressman Brian Higgins is asking the leaders to address what his team called “several key issues especially important to communities and economies positioned on either side of the border.”
In a letter to Blinken, Higgins wrote, “As you well know, the relationship between the United States and Canada is unique, and discussion of our binational priorities prior to a multilateral meeting serves great purpose in achieving mutual goals. I write to bring Northern Border issues, including current COVID-19 border restrictions, the NEXUS backlog, and their economic impacts, to your attention, so they may be addressed during your upcoming discussions.”
Higgins’ letter further details what his team described as the economic damage created by the U.S.’ continuation of COVID-19-related restrictions at land ports of entry, insisting, “The United States must lift its border restrictions to encourage a return to pre-pandemic levels of travel and economic activity.”
The congressman also wants the two countries to “work expeditiously and collaboratively to address the massive backlog of NEXUS application cases.”
Higgins’ Western New York district includes the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. He is co-chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group and the Northern Border Caucus, and serves as a member of the House of Representatives Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, including its subcommittee on trade.
Canada lifted pandemic-related border restrictions, including the ArriveCAN mandate, random testing, and a coronavirus vaccine requirement effective Oct. 1. The U.S. has not yet fully removed pandemic-related northern border measures. Last month, Higgins voiced concerns about continuing border restrictions in a letter to the U.S. secretary of Homeland Security. Higgins and his counterparts on the Interparliamentary Group met in Washington, D.C., in September.