BUFFALO, N.Y. — The border between the United States and Canada has been closed for non-essential travel since March of last year with the restrictions extended monthly.
With the next deadline of July 21 coming up in a week, it doesn't appear there will be any major changes. That has been despite the vocal advocacy from Rep. Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, to open the border since COVID-19 vaccines have been widely available.
Canada was originally behind the U.S. in vaccination rates, but has made great strides in the last month or so as the U.S. has sent millions of doses across the border.
"Those people who have taken on the responsibility to get vaccinated, to give themselves and their families the immunity from getting or giving COVID, that needs to be recognized," Higgins said. "That needs to be acknowledged."
Higgins criticized the Canadian government for making arbitrary decisions to grant objections to hockey players during the Stanley Cup Finals as well as considering allowing the Blue Jays, who have been playing in Buffalo, to return home games to Toronto. Most of Higgins’ ire has been reserved for the neighboring federal government, but says U.S. President Joe Biden along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deserves as share of the blame.
He said the president has yet to provide a plan Americans deserve.
"The Biden administration was very clear in January that they were going to have a plan to open the border within 14 days and there's no plan," he said. "Two people can make this happen: the Biden administration and the Canadian prime minister."
Higgins said he reached out to the administration as recently as Monday but hasn't received satisfactory answers. He points out that a recent poll showed a majority of Canadians believe the border should be opened this summer or, at the latest, this fall.