More and more officials in Minnesota and North Dakota worry about continued closure of Canadian border
Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, both Democrats, wrote this week to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to express their “deep disappointment” that the United States continues to maintain the US border. -canadienne closed to non-essential travel. .
Also this week, Minnesota Reps Michelle Fischbach, Tom Emmer and Pete Stauber – with fellow North Dakota Republican Kelly Armstrong and New York Reps Chris Jacobs and Elise Stefanik – written to Mayorkas. All of the representatives associated with the letter are Republicans.
âThe towns, villages and tribes of northern Minnesota depend on cross-border travel to support their economies and their way of life,â Smith and Klobuchar wrote in their letter sent on Monday, September 27. âDue to the indefinite travel restrictions currently in place. , businesses in border communities continue to struggle for 18 months after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. ”
The letters are a continuation of efforts made in recent months by officials across the country, but primarily those representing border states. Many, representing the two main political parties, have expressed their displeasure with the continued shutdown, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who issued a condemnation statement in his weekly newsletter.
The border has been closed to non-essential southerly travel since March 2020, and has been extended throughout this period in one-month increments. Canada, meanwhile, opened its border to vaccinated U.S. citizens on August 9.
The latest US government extension will last until at least October 21. During this time, Canadians traveling by air can enter the United States
âAgain without an explanation from the White House, it is impossible to know what is behind this baffling decision to extend these unnecessary restrictions to land travelers from Canada. – when Canada’s vaccination rate is significantly higher than that of the United States – while arranging accommodation for foreign visitors traveling by air to our country, âBurgum said in a statement. “We will not relax our efforts to put pressure on the Biden administration (…)
Klobuchar-Smith’s letter specifically noted the damage caused by the border closure to Native American tribes in the area.
“The Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, one of eleven tribal nations in Minnesota, relies heavily on tourism brought in by Canadians and has seen its incomes drop 70 to 80 percent below average,” they wrote. . âAs you know, tribal nations do not have a tax base because of the land trust structure, and their business income is their lifeline. With the continued closure of the border, the Grand Portage strip remains in economic crisis. They had to make untenable decisions to survive, including using American Rescue Plan Act funds for stabilization instead of recovery. One more month of closures will worsen the crisis for Grand Portage Band. “
Klobuchar and Smith noted that 85.77% of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccination and nearly 79% of this country’s population is fully vaccinated.
The letter from the Republican representatives expresses concerns not only about the continued closure, but also what they perceive as the absence of a plan to “operationalize new border procedures”.
âCustoms and border protection do not appear to have a plan in place to execute a safe reopening without causing huge delays at land entry points,â the Republican officials wrote. “This is a major issue for members of the commerce sector, who need to know whether (the Department of Homeland Security) will allocate the appropriate resources to maintain adequate levels of security and efficiency so that all LPOEs can operate successfully.” . “
They say the problem affects all Americans, as it will involve business, merchandise trade, and tourism, as well as Americans who “haven’t been able to visit friends, family and loved ones for a long time. too long”.