Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Elise Stefanik today joined her colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas opposing the extension of the northern border travel restrictions and urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to submit to Congress a plan for implementing a reopening of the border.
This renewed push comes after the Biden Administration last week extended northern border travel restrictions until at least October 21, 2021.
“For too long, the Biden Administration has delayed the reopening of the northern border at the expense of the North Country’s families, tourism, and small businesses,” Stefanik said. “While Biden’s bureaucrats continue to postpone, the least they can do is put a plan in place for reopening, so life in border communities can resume without additional delay. This prolonged closure has been devastating for our region, and the residents of the North Country deserve no further delay.”
Stefanik joined Representatives Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn.), and Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) in this letter advocating for the border communities they represent.
In June, Stefanik introduced the Restoring Northern Border Travel Act, which would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to expand the categories of permitted travel into the U.S. across the U.S. – Canada border to include individuals traveling to visit family members or property in the U.S., attend business meetings or site-visits, or access U.S. airports. This bill would also require DHS to begin implementing and submit to Congress a plan to fully restore nonessential travel into the U.S. at the northern border. She has also called on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to bring this legislation to the Senate floor for a vote.
Congresswoman Stefanik has met with several Members of Parliament to discuss strategies to reopen the U.S. – Canada border and sent letters to each of Canada’s provincial and territorial Premiers requesting their partnership and assistance. She applauded the Canadian government’s announcement that allowed fully vaccinated Americans to travel to Canada starting on August 9, 2021.
Read the full letter here or below:
Dear Secretary Mayorkas:
As you know, President Biden has decided to extend the closure of land borders until, at the earliest, October 21, a decision that we do not support. In the hope that a reopening will occur promptly on or immediately after this date, we request an immediate report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to Congress with a plan for operationalizing new border procedures.
As Representatives from northern border states, we are especially concerned about the situation along the United States-Canada border. Currently, Customs and Border Protection does not appear to have a plan in place to execute a safe reopening without causing tremendous delays at land ports of entry (LPOE). This is a major problem for members of the commercial trade sector, who need to know whether DHS will assign appropriate resources to maintain adequate levels of security and efficiency so that all LPOEs can operate successfully.
However, this issue impacts all Americans, not just those directly engaged in the cross-border trade in goods, which totaled nearly $720 billion in 2019. The movement of people, for tourism or other forms of discretionary travel, is also a major economic driver. Ninety percent of the Canadian population lives within one hundred miles of the border, making our country Canada’s largest inbound travel market. In 2018 alone, there were 21.5 million overnight arrivals from Canada, roughly half of which crossed a land border, and each Canadian visitor spent an average of $980 while in the United States.
The economic and social costs of the land border restrictions grow every day they remain in place, delaying the usual $1.7 billion in products that cross the U.S-Canada border daily and preventing nearly all non-essential travel. Any further delays at LPOE checkpoints upon reopening will only continue to further harm those who have already suffered over the past 16 months – including not just the business community, but also those who have been unable to visit friends, family, and loved ones for far too long.
We urge your office to move quickly on this important matter and stand ready to assist your efforts in any way possible.