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New York congressman urges Biden to consider easing Canada-U.S. border restrictions


WASHINGTON — One Capitol Hill lawmaker is ramping up the pressure on President Joe Biden to begin reopening the Canada-U.S. border. 

New York congressman Brian Higgins wants the White House to prioritize easing border restrictions by the Memorial Day long weekend at the end of May.

Higgins tells CTV News that he wants Biden to make fully reopening the border by July 4 his next "No. 1 priority." 

Higgins is chairman of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, a group of lawmakers from northern states whose regional economies have been hit hard by the border closure. 

The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel for nearly a year since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in North America. 

Higgins says since Biden expects most Americans to have access to a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May, that's a good date to begin lifting border restrictions.

"Sometimes you have to push, and there's a lot of priorities," Higgins said in an interview with CTV. 

"My job is to make the opening the U.S.-Canadian border a No. 1 priority for this administration."

Even though his New York district is directly across the Niagara River from Ontario, "the distance to Canada is now further than it has ever been in my lifetime," Higgins writes in a letter to Biden. 

"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."

Business leaders, local politicians and academics have been urging both governments for months to begin thinking about how to lift the restrictions, which prohibit incidental travel while allowing essential workers and trade to continue to cross. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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