(WSYR-TV) — Several members of congress are pushing for guidance to be developed as to when the U.S.-Canadian border can be reopened, which has been closed since March 24, except for essential travel.
As the Co-Chairs of the Northern Border Caucus, Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) and Representative Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) are spearheading the effort to develop guidance for the border, and many of their colleagues have shown support.
Since the border was initially closed on March 24, the closure has been extended for 30 days four separate times, and congress wants guidance developed as to when the closures could end.
The little guidance that has been provided by either government has caused much stress for people who have family or property on the other side of the border.
The members of congress who signed the letter asking for guidance on the reopening of the border, want a phased-in approach.
The letter that was sent to the Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Candian Prime Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness reads, “We are asking that the United States and Canada immediately craft a comprehensive framework for phased reopening of the border based on objective metrics and accounting for the varied circumstances across border regions. Additionally, we request consideration of any interim measures that may be appropriate to bilaterally ease restrictions on family members and property owners – including those with property on U.S. soil accessible only through cross-border transit – in order to restore the social bond that unites our two nations.”
27 congressmembers joined Rep. Stefanik and Rep. Higgins on the letter, including Representative Anthony Brindisi (D-NY-22), Representative Tom Reed (R-NY-23) and Representative John Katko (R-NY-24).
Under the current restrictions on the border, only essential travel is allowed.
Essential travel includes the following:
- US citizens returning to the US
- Individuals traveling for medical purposes
- Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions or work
- Individuals traveling for emergency or government response
- Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g. cargo drivers)
- Members of the military
The United States and Canada share the largest land border between two countries in the world. More than 400,000 people and over $1.6 billion worth of goods cross the border daily when it is open.
There is also a travel restriction on the U.S.-Mexico border, which is scheduled to expire on July 22.