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Congressman Higgins Reports on New Northern Border Restrictions

Mar 20, 2020
Press Release
U.S. – Canada Crossings Limited to Essential Services

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) reported on new restrictions at the border between the United States and Canada which will be put into place by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) effective 11:59pm today, March 20, 2020 in a binational response to limit the COVID-19 outbreak. 

On March 17, Higgins, who serves as Co-Chair of the House of Representatives Northern Border Caucus, wrote to CBP seeking clear answers on crossing procedures.

On March 18 United States President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced joint plans to close the border to non-essential travel.  The specifics on that plan are now available.

The notification of temporary travel restrictions at Land Ports of Entry defines essential travel as follows:

For purposes of the temporary alteration in certain designated ports of entry operations authorized under 19 U.S.C. 1318(b)(1)(C) and (b)(2), travel through the land ports of entry and ferry terminals along the United States-Canada border shall be limited to “essential travel,” which includes, but is not limited to—

· U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States;

· Individuals traveling for medical purposes (e.g., to receive medical treatment in the United States);

· Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions;

· Individuals traveling to work in the United States (e.g., individuals working in the farming or agriculture industry who must travel between the United States and Canada in furtherance of such work);

· Individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes (e.g., government officials or emergency responders entering the United States to support Federal, state, local, tribal, or territorial government efforts to respond to COVID-19 or other emergencies);

· Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g., truck drivers supporting the movement of cargo between the United States and Canada);

· Individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel;

· Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the spouses and children of members of the U.S. Armed Forces, returning to the United States; and

· Individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.  

The following travel does not fall within the definition of “essential travel” for purposes of this Notification—

· Individuals traveling for tourism purposes (e.g., sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events).

At this time, this Notification does not apply to air, freight rail, or sea travel between the United States and Canada, but does apply to passenger rail and ferry travel between the United States and Canada.

These restrictions are temporary in nature and shall remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. EDT on April 20, 2020.

Congressman Higgins is Co-chair of the Northern Border Caucus and Chair of the Canada-US Inter-Parliamentary Group.  He currently serves as a member of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee including its subcommittee on Trade as well as the House Budget Committee.  He previously served as a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Homeland Security Committees.

Higgins’ Western New York district, which encompasses the cities of Buffalo and Niagara Falls, borders Southern Ontario and includes three automobile and two rail crossings between the United States and Canada.

The Northern Border constitutes the longest land boundary between two countries in the world.  At 5,525 miles, approximately 400,000 people and over $1.6 billion in goods cross the border daily through more than 120 ports of entry.