Higgins Applauds Launch of NEXUS Pilot Project at the Peace Bridge, Renews Call for U.S. and Canada to Break Logjam on Applications
New Coordinated Effort Between U.S. & Canada Border Agents Will Address Backlog
Washington, DC, December 1, 2022
Tags: US-Canada Relations
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) announced the launch of a pilot program to expedite NEXUS processing at the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, New York. Higgins applauded U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA), and the Peace Bridge Authority for facilitating a system to improve access to NEXUS processing Western New York and reduce the existing backlog.
“Border management has gotten more complicated than it has to be,” said Congressman Higgins. “The U.S. and Canada are longtime friends with interconnected economies. We need to find ways to break down the barriers at our border to better support the flow of people and goods between neighbors. This is an important stopgap, but is a reminder that the U.S. and Canada still need to fulfill the potential of the agreement reached in 2015 to facilitate NEXUS application procedures in a seamless way to the benefit of both Canadians and Americans.”
A similar pilot effort recently launched at the Thousand Islands border crossing between Alexandria Bay, New York and Lansdowne, Ontario.
Typically, NEXUS applicant interviews have been conducted jointly with border agents from both the U.S. and Canada in the same room.
The COVID pandemic effectively shut down the border between the U.S. and Canada to recreational travel beginning March 2020 and border agents stopped crossing the border to accommodate NEXUS interviews. U.S. NEXUS enrollment centers reopened in April of 2022 however legal differences between the two countries have held up a return to the traditional joint interview process.
The Peace Bridge NEXUS pilot project will have applicants sit with CBSA agents in Canada first followed by a meeting with CBP agents in the United States. The pilot is scheduled to begin on December 1, 2022 and will be phased in in stages. When fully operational, as many as 500 NEXUS applications could be processed weekly at the Peace Bridge site.
According to U.S. CBP, as of the end of October, the processing time for new and renewed NEXUS applications that required review was 494 days, or approximately 16 ½ months.
Rep. Higgins, who serves as Co-Chair of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Exchange and the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, has been working with various stakeholders to try to resolve the NEXUS backlog. Higgins recently led a bipartisan letter with Congressional colleagues to Canadian counterparts. He spoke about the NEXUS situation directly with the U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Cohen in November and then-U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Chris Magnus in August, as a follow-up to a letter to CBP. Members of Higgins’s staff also had a virtual meeting in October with U.S. Customs and Border Protection headquarters staff about the backlog and the Alexandria Bay pilot launch.