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In Follow-up to Canadian Prime Minister’s Visit to Washington, D.C., Members of House of Representatives Northern Border Caucus Express Concern Over Proposed Biometric Screening Requirements

Feb 15, 2017
Press Release
In Bipartisan Letter to Homeland Security Secretary Members Stress Need to Consider Unique Relationship Between the U.S. and Canada

As the critical relationship between the United States and Canada is in the spotlight after Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s visit to Washington, D.C., several members of the House of Representatives Northern Border Caucus are sending a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly cautioning against the existing proposal requiring implementation of biometric screening at Land Ports of Entry (LPOE). 

The bipartisan letter is signed by Northern Border Caucus co-chairs Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY-26) and Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND-At-large) as well as Congressmembers Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Peter Welch (VT-At-large), Carol Shea-Porter (NH-1) and Suzan DelBene (WA-1).   The members point out, “Each day, nearly 400,000 people cross the US-Canada land border along with over $2 billion in goods and services.”  They argue that the Beyond the Border Action Plan already established a joint biographic entry-exit initiative and any further security measures should be coordinated between both countries. 

Rep. Higgins spoke about the issue on the House Floor:

(To access video click above or go to: https://youtu.be/4JSAM1qzdx4)

“Our border infrastructure is already congested, hampering the seamless flow of goods and people across our border and the economic growth potential that comes with it,” said Rep. Higgins, whose Western New York district includes four international crossings.  “Adding another checkpoint layer is logistically unfeasible for many bridges and plazas already at capacity and completely counterproductive to efforts that feed our local and national economies.”

“The United States and Canada have worked cooperatively for decades to ensure efficient border management while promoting travel, trade, and border security between our two countries. Adding an additional and unneeded layer of screening for the hundreds of thousands of individuals crossing the U.S.-Canada border would create unnecessary congestion across our infrastructure and customs processes. I’m proud to join my colleagues in sending this letter to Secretary Kelly to ensure safe and efficient cross border travel between the U.S. and Canada," said Rep. Slaughter.

“The commerce and tourism that comes with sharing a border is a critical factor in maintaining a vibrant economy,” Rep. DelBene said. “Adding additional barriers would have an immediate and detrimental effect on the local economies of our border communities.”

Rep. Welch said, “This idea is a bad idea and a step in the wrong direction. Long wait times at the border are already delaying Vermonters and Canadians traveling for both work and pleasure. We should be working to enhance the special and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship we have with Canada, not hinder it.”

“I urge Secretary Kelly to abandon this unnecessary proposal because it would lengthen lines, increase wait times, and interfere with commercial traffic, negatively impacting New Hampshire tourism and our local economy,” said Rep. Shea-Porter.

Expedited implementation of a biometric entry-exit tracking system for all travelers to the United States is among the items listed in President Trump’s Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017.