O, Canada, come on back!
The Biden administration intends to reopen overland border crossings to our vaccinated neighbors to the north by early November, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Tuesday night.
Schumer claimed he had received “direct confirmation” of the reopening plan from Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. It would be the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 that the world’s longest land border opens to nonessential two-way travel traffic.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, member[s] of our shared border community have felt the pain and economic hardship of the land border closures. That pain is about to end,” Schumer said in a statement. “Very soon, the link between New York and our northern neighbors will finally be re-established, reuniting families, bolstering businesses, and ending a frustrating cycle of waiting for everyone involved.”
The Canadian government opened its border to vaccinated American travelers on Aug. 9, but the Biden administration did not reciprocate. Currently, restrictions on non-essential travel from Canada are set to expire Oct. 21.
The slowness of the White House in opening the northern border exasperated lawmakers who represent communities near the frontier.
Last month, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), called on Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to bring forward legislation to force the reopening of the US to Canadian tourists.
“The reduction in cross-border traffic has had a significant impact on local economies along the northern border, including agriculture, small businesses, and tourism,” the two wrote at the time. “These industries are the lifeblood of many northern border communities from New York to Montana that continue to inordinately feel the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“To make matters worse,” they added, “the Biden Administration has provided zero transparency on the metrics and decision-making process guiding these continued restrictions and still has not established any plan on how cross-border travel will eventually be restored.”
Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world. According to data from CTV News, more than 87.7 percent of its population aged 12 and older have received at least one vaccine shot and more than 82 percent of that group are considered fully vaccinated.
However, while the Biden administration kept travel restrictions in place for those attempting to enter the US from high-vaccination locations like Canada and Europe, hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants have been allowed to cross over the US-Mexico border without requiring a COVID-19 vaccine or even a negative test for the virus.
Last month, the White House announced that it would allow vaccinated travelers from the 26-nation Schengen Zone to enter the US, as well as those from other countries that experienced early outbreaks of COVID-19, including Brazil, China, Iran, Ireland, South Africa and the UK.