Rep. Higgins wants to see northern border fully reopened by July 4

Western New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Congressman Brian Higgins wants to see the border between the U.S. and Canada fully reopened by Independence Day.

The Democratic congressman, who represents New York’s 26th district, shared these sentiments in a letter to President Joe Biden late last month.

“Our nation’s vaccine distribution is increasing, testing capacity has grown, and with continued observance of social distancing precautions and good hygiene measures, we can crush the virus and manage the impact of any variants,” Higgins wrote. “The passage of the American Rescue Plan will embolden these efforts.”

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In the letter, Higgins stated his goal was a partial reopening by Memorial Day, and a full reopening by July 4.

“Even though my district in Western New York sits just across the Niagara River to the Canadian
province of Ontario, the distance to Canada is now further than it has ever been in my lifetime,” Higgins wrote.

According to a report by CTV News, “a top official with the Prime Minister’s Office” spoke with the Canadian broadcaster, and said “we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we’re not there yet.”

Read the full text of Higgins’ letter to Biden below:

“February 24, 2021
President Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

President Biden,

The United States and Canada have a long-standing relationship founded on shared values and
strengthened by the spirit of cooperation. It is a welcome sign that the relationship between our
two countries is back on track after a period of acrimony over the last four years, and in
particular the last 12 months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your recent bilateral meeting with
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should be the beginning of an effort to restore this partnership. I
applaud these efforts and that the Roadmap your Administration released included mention of
finally “taking a coordinated approach based on science and public health criteria when
considering measures to ease Canada-U.S. border restrictions in the future.”

I believe that now is the time to think boldly and proactively in planning out the incremental reopening of our border with Canada. Our nation’s vaccine distribution is increasing, testing
capacity has grown, and with continued observance of social distancing precautions and good
hygiene measures, we can crush the virus and manage the impact of any variants. The passage of
the American Rescue Plan will embolden these efforts. Therefore, I challenge the administration
to work with me to reach a goal for a partial re-opening of the Northern Border by Memorial Day
of this year with a full re-opening by July 4 of this year. There are steps that the U.S.
government can and should take on its own, immediately, to address some of the hardships
caused by the closure of the Northern Border, including instituting a reunification program for
families and loved ones at least as generous as the reunification program which Canada has
already implemented.

Even though my district in Western New York sits just across the Niagara River to the Canadian
province of Ontario, the distance to Canada is now further than it has ever been in my lifetime.
This tears at the fabric of our community and is a critical problem for individuals, families, and
businesses. Given the economic and social costs the border closure has had on the region, we
must prioritize efforts to expand essential traveler exceptions and plan for an incremental reopening now.

I am proud of collective action my community has put forth to take on the virus and tackle the
challenges that have come our way. Yet our relationship with Canada requires special attention.
We are ready to work with you to help achieve these objectives to reunite our communities once
again.

Thank you again for your leadership. I look forward to continuing to work with you on this
matter of utmost importance.”

Letter to President Biden from Rep. Brian Higgins

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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