DHS addressed many of the concerns raised by the Senators through new guidance
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King called on President Trump to consider necessary exemptions to protect public health and safety for businesses and individuals affected by the closure of the U.S.-Canadian border to non-essential travel. The bipartisan letter, which was co-signed by a bipartisan group of Senators representing states along the United States-Canada border, highlights concerns regarding the border closure’s effect on the supply chains of companies that produce or provide essential goods and services. The northern border closure begins March 21st. The letter also urges the President to consider the impact on families living in border communities.
Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security addressed many of the concerns the Senators raised by granting cross-border travel exemptions to: U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the U.S., individuals traveling for medical purposes, individuals traveling to attend educational institutions; individuals traveling to work in the U.S., individuals traveling for emergency response and public health purposes, individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade, individuals engaged in official government travel or diplomatic travel, members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families returning to the U.S., and individuals engaged in military-related travel or operations.
The Senators wrote, “Many businesses in our states, including hospitals and medical equipment providers, depend upon travel across the northern border for essential supplies and personnel. In attempting to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, we must ensure that any new travel restrictions do not handicap these industries and their ability to respond to outbreaks quickly and effectively. Federal agencies and the Coronavirus Task Force will need to coordinate closely to ensure the necessary exemptions are made to travel restrictions. We ask that as you make decisions to restrict travel to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, you immediately communicate with the businesses and individuals regarding those restrictions.”
The letter continued by urging the President to evaluate the impact of travel restrictions on families and communities along the northern border, some of which share essential services critical to public safety. The Senators implored the President to provide guidance as to how closures and quarantines will affect these communities to ensure all necessary exemptions are made in the interest of public health and safety. The Senators closed their letter by reiterating that restrictions on travel across the border are necessary to stem the spread of the coronavirus, but that targeted exemptions must be considered and clear directives for those exemptions must be immediately provided so businesses and individuals are able to plan and prepare.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the letter was signed by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jim Risch (R-ID), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Rob Portman (R-OH).
Click HERE to read the letter.