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Higgins Responds to Northern Border Travel Restriction Extension

Aug 14, 2020
Press Release
News Comes as Trump’s Mishandling of Pandemic Continues & Report Finds DHS Officials Not Qualified to Lead

Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), who serves as Co-Chair of the Northern Border Caucus, released the following statement in response to today’s announcement that the Canadian government is extending travel restrictions between the United States and Canada through September 21, 2020:

“On full display for the entire world to see is the Trump Administration’s abject failure to lead.  This lack of leadership is keeping families apart, straining the relationship with our closest allies, and contributing to unnecessary deaths. 

“We would love for the border to reopen but we certainly expected this decision. Unless and until our President takes this Pandemic seriously and employs policies that protect Americans and support assistance to help communities, I’m afraid we are facing a long, tough road ahead.”

The border first closed due to the pandemic on March 24th. The border crossing restrictions have previously been extended multiple times.  The first extension was through May 20, then June 22, July 21, August 21 and now September 21.

Under the current order, “essential travel” includes:

•        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


Higgins has been advocating for additional exceptions and considerations. On May 22, Higgins first asked for the definition of essential travel be expanded specifically to include:

1) travel safely to visit family,

2) travel to manage individuals’ legitimate business interests, and

3) travel to inspect, secure and/or manage personal property.

Most recently Higgins requested clarity on procedures for caregivers crossing with patients visiting Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center or other regional healthcare facilities. 

Congressman Higgins and his Northern Border Co-Chair Elise Stefanik, also led a bipartisan letter signed by 29 members of Congress calling on the US and Canadian governments to begin to develop a framework for a phased reopening of the border. 

Canada with a population of 37.6 million currently has 123,184 COVID cases and 9,063 deaths. When adjusted for population Canada has about 24 deaths per 100,000 people.  The US on the other hand, with a population of 328 million people, has over 5.255 million confirmed cases and 167,253 deaths.  When adjusted for population the US has about 51 – or twice as many deaths per 100,000 people.

The United States has just 4.25% of the world’s population but our citizens, friends, neighbors and family members now represent over 22% of the world’s deaths due to COVID.

News of a continued extension of border restrictions comes as the nonpartisan Government Accounting Office (GAO) issues a report finding that Administrators responsible for border operations - President Trump’s Acting Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf and Deputy Secretary Kenneth T. Cuccinelli - are not legally fit to serve. 

In July Higgins called for a the DHS Acting Secretary to be removed from office after it was discovered that Homeland Security officials were lying about the facts and their intentions in implementing a policy that banned New Yorkers from Trusted Traveler programs such as Nexus.