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Monday, November 29th, 2021

Rep. Higgins advocates northern border family unification

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Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY) has issued an appeal to expand the definition of essential traveler related to the northern border, citing the need to allow families to reunite.

Higgins, co-chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, recently spoke with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

“We have been dealing with coronavirus, first SARS, then MERS, now COVID-19, for 18 years now, and we could see variants for years to come,” Higgins said. “People living on either side of the U.S. – Canada border have already lost a year of time with their loved ones, and they should not have to wait one more day. The U.S. can and should take immediate action to allow family members to be together again.”

Authorities indicated Higgins recently wrote to Mayorkas requesting a conversation about the northern border, adding Mayorkas understood Higgins’ concerns and said he would take the legislator’s recommendations to the task force assigned to develop a reopening plan.

The U.S.-Canadian border initially closed to non-essential travel in March 2020 due to the pandemic, and the existing order was recently extended through May 21, 2021.

Additionally, the Canadian government added an exemption allowing immediate family members of Canadian citizens to enter Canada to reunite with family and later expanded the exemption to allow extended family members to cross. Through the guidelines, immediate family is defined as a spouse or common-law partner, dependent child, dependent child of a dependent child, parent or step-parent or guardian.