Gillibrand, Jacobs and Higgins join in urging US-Canada border to stay open to vaccinated

Posted 9 January 2022 at 12:48 pm

Press Release, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Office

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the Omicron variant of Covid-19 raises new challenges and continues to spread, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY-26), and Congressman Chris Jacobs (R-NY-27) are urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to maintain the open U.S.-Canada land border for vaccinated individuals safely and efficiently. After nearly 20 months of closure, the Biden administration announced the decision to allow fully vaccinated travelers from Canada and Mexico to travel to the U.S. for non-essential travel through all ports of entry in October of 2021. The New York lawmakers are now urging the administration to uphold its decision to protect the economic livelihoods of New York businesses and to ensure additional burdens are not placed on the nation’s supply chains.

“Now that vaccines are widely available, we cannot return to the economic and personal sacrifices that would be made if the northern border is closed once again,” said the lawmakers. “The impact of nearly 20 months of closure was devastating to countless New York businesses, medical providers, and families who depend on travel across the New York-Canadian border. The northern border is the gateway to an indispensable economic partnership, and we are confident border crossings can continue safely and efficiently.”

Throughout the pandemic, Senator Gillibrand has been a vocal advocate for safely reopening and maintaining an open U.S.-Canadian border. Weeks before the administration made its decision to reopen the border in October, Gillibrand sent a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requesting clarification and medical justification for the CDC’s decision to treat air and land border crossings differently.

Since the onset of the pandemic, Gillibrand has requested guidance from both the Biden and Trump administrations to understand how closures and quarantines would affect New York’s bordering communities and to ensure all necessary exemptions have been made in the interest of public health and safety. The closure and loss of Canadian business cost the U.S. economy $1.5 billion each month and $665-855 million annually in Erie County alone. In July of 2021, Gillibrand applauded Canada’s decision to reopen the border to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens, even as the U.S. government extended its ban on non-essential travel from Canada.