US Senate News:
Source: United States Senator for New York Charles E Schumer
Just Hours After Latest Border Closure Extension, On Direct Call With Ambassador Hillman, Schumer Discusses Need To Safely Reopen The Border ASAP, Binational Border Reopening Should Be Highest Priority; Majority Leader Offered Any Available Assistance Needed For A Smooth & Safe Reopening
Thousands Of New Yorkers & Canadians Remain Cut-off From Family, Loved Ones, And Properties & Business Are At Risk Of Losing Another Summer Season; With Local Upstate Economies At Risk, Schumer Says NY Communities Share Deep, Long-Standing Social & Economic Ties With Canada Deserve To Know The End Is In Sight
Schumer to Canada: It’s All Hands On Deck To Safely Open Border; Tell Us What You Need
With pandemic restrictions completely lifted in New York last week as New York state reached a 70% vaccination rate, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, on a personal call to Canadian Ambassador Kirsten Hillman, once again pressed for Canadian and U.S. officials to adopt new essential traveler rules – which would include anyone who has been vaccinated and has familial, property, educational, commercial, or medical interests – and to develop a public strategy ASAP to safely reopen the Northern Border.
Schumer stressed on his Friday call with Ambassador Hillman that since March 2020, American and Canadian stakeholders on both sides of the border have grown frustrated with the endless cycle of month-by-month closure extensions and the lack of transparency on which they’re decided. Just this week, New York State achieved the major goal of at least 70% of all residents have received one vaccine. Another significant milestone occurred this week as the European Union declared Americans as safe to travel to and from as tourists. With the current moratorium on non-essential traffic set to be re-extended on Monday, the United States sending one million doses of the Moderna vaccine to Canada, and with New York reaching a significant milestone of 70% having received at least one vaccine dose, Schumer urged the relevant parties to come to an agreement as soon as possible on how and when to allow for increased cross border travel to avoid the loss of another summer season and hundreds of millions in cross-border dollars.
“Once I heard the border closure would be extended yet again for another long thirty days, I immediately called the Canadian Ambassador to see what we can do, on both sides, to finally reopen the border and truly get Upstate New York on the road to recovery,” said Senator Schumer. “I explained to Ambassador Hillman how mindboggling it is that many New Yorkers are free to travel to Europe now, but even those fully vaccinated can’t even drive a few miles north to Canada to their homes, businesses, stores, families, and properties! I urged her to coordinate with me and other U.S. officials ASAP to come up with a plan – based on science, data, and common sense – that will allow for safe and steady border travel and reunite families and friends and jumpstart New York’s local economies. I won’t rest until the northern border is safely and effectively opened for all vaccinated New Yorkers.”
Specifically, Schumer requested that a binational agreement on reopening criteria be established and disclosed to the public without delay, allowing clarity and certainty for the thousands who have been displaced by the continued cycle of closure extensions. Such clarity, Schumer argued, would provide transparency, goals to meet and guide policy, and would eliminate the need for monthly extensions that have seemed arbitrary.
Additionally, Schumer stressed the importance of recreational and commercial boating in the waters along the border. Currently, American and Canadian boaters are not able to cross the border by water, even if they have no intention of stopping at a port of entry. This practice, Schumer said, unfairly penalizes boaters who present no risk of COVID transmission.
The U.S.-Canadian Border first closed to non-essential travel on March 20, 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID between the two countries. Since then, the border has remained closed, causing hardships for individuals, families, businesses and communities, who depended on cross-border travel to see loved ones or to generate revenue. Schumer said the people who have done their civic duty to get vaccinated and complied with the border closure for the greater good of public health, deserve justification for the border’s continued closure and a plan with benchmark goals that will lead to reopening.
Schumer personally travelled to the Northern Border last month, where he unveiled a four-point plan for reopening and spoke with local officials. He also urged on a direct call to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to work with his Canadian counterparts to adopt a plan for reopening.