NIAGARA FALLS, ONTARIO (WIVB) Nineteen days after the US Department of Homeland Security announced that it will suspend New York residents’ ability to enroll or re-enroll in the Trusted Traveler Program, advocates for cross border commerce are joining forces to call for a reversal of the decision.
The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce on the Canadian side are joining the Buffalo Niagara Partnership in firing off a letter to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security urging him to reverse a decision that suspended any New York residents from applying or renewing their membership in the Trusted Traveler program.
“It’s the message that this decision is going to be bad for business. It’s gonna impact jobs,” said Hugo Chesshire, of the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. Chesshire says 40% of trucks on the local bridges use the Fast program and if the New York based trucks are phased out of that over five years, it will affect all travelers and affect commerce.
“There’s a lot of businesses that depend on both, like auto parts is a big export,” said Chesshire. “There are plants in Canada, there are parts plants in the States and they rely on being able to ship components to one another to make a finished automobile. With stuff like this being in the way, you could end up with plants being idled with production not happening, possibly workers being laid off. It remains to be seen exactly what the consequences are, but that’s another issue that we have is that the consequences of shutting this down haven’t really been explored or explained, so the truth is, we can’t really say what the economic impact is.”
From day one, the Buffalo Niagara Partnership president, Dottie Gallagher has been outspoken against the decision. “It just feels like a lot of tit-for-tat and a lot of Washington and New York State sort of duking it out and we are gonna pay the price for that, not only crossing the bridge but even global entry, so it’s just ridiculous.”