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Rep. Higgins calls on U.S. to expand family reunification measures, following Canadian border policy

Posted at 9:20 AM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 17:50:43-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) is calling on the United States government to expand exemptions to current U.S.-Canada border restrictions after Canada allowed for additional family reunification measures.

Since March 24, the border between Canada and the United States has been closed to non-essential traffic.

But with the upcoming Thanksgiving holidays (Monday, October 12 in Canada and Thursday, November 26 in the U.S.), Canadian immigration authorities have extended exemptions to not only direct-family members but also extended family members which include: those in an exclusive dating relationship for at least 1 year, an adult child, a grandchild, a sibling, half-sibling, or step-sibling, and a grandparent.

Congressman Higgins wrote a letter to President Donald Trump which says the following

I ask you to implement carefully calibrated exemptions to these restrictions – based on reasonable public health metrics – for property owners and those traveling to reunite with family across the border. The Canadian government has relaxed restrictions for travel of family members of Canadian citizens on two separate occasions already…The United States, however, has yet to adopt similar exemptions for land border crossings.
Rep. Brian Higgins

The U.S.-Canada border has been closed since March 24, and is expected to remain closed through October 21st.

Under the current U.S. order, border crossings into the U.S. are only allowed for the following
• U.S. citizens returning to the U.S.
• Individuals traveling for medical purposes
• Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions or work
• Individuals traveling for emergency or government response
• Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g. cargo drivers)
• Members of the military

Rep. Higgins also wrote to the president the following

“Our constituents along the northern border in New York, in those communities that have a low rate of infection and a low number of cases, have been suffering from this seemingly endless ban on their ability to engage in legitimate cross-border travel according to common sense safety metrics. Given the enormity of the northern border and the diversity of northern border regions, I believe that a more nuanced approach, taking regional COVID-19 transmission risks into account, is more appropriate than a uniform border-wide policy.”