Bipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions

Bipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of governors is pressing the Biden administration for answers on keeping the U.S-Canadian border closed to nonessential travel.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal Republicans demanding Blinken impeachment are forgetting one thing — the Constitution MORE and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasSecond senior official leaving DHS in a week Biden administration expanding efforts to reunite separated migrant families DHS secretary's chief of staff resigns MORE on Friday, the governors asked for additional information relating to “COVID-19 travel restrictions that impact the U.S.-Canadian border.”

“At this point in the nation’s work to get the economy back on track, it is imperative that the federal government work more closely and transparently with us and our Canadian provincial counterparts to quickly define and implement a reopening plan,” the letter reads.


“We have no doubt such a plan can ensure the safety and welfare of American citizens during this ever-changing pandemic landscape,” it continued. 


The U.S.-Canadian border has been closed to nonessential travel since the pandemic began in March 2020.


The most recent extension was set to expire on July 21, but Canada announced on July 19 that it would accept fully vaccinated Americans and permanent residents for nonessential travel beginning Aug. 9.

However, days after Canada’s announcement, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would extend the closure of land borders between Canada and Mexico through Aug. 21.

The governors — all of whom lead states that border Canada — wrote that the department's decision is “deepening the already significant economic impacts of the pandemic on northern border communities and states.”

They added that their constituents, many of whom work for small businesses, are asking “how and when cross-border economic activity will resume in a safe and sustainable manner.”

The group asked for the information or data that the federal government cited for its decision, the metrics it is using to determine when the border can reopen, and what obstacles “may exist to timely implementation of a thoughtful, clearly defined reopening plan.”

In a statement to The Hill, a State Department spokesperson said the agency does not comment on “private correspondence with Secretary Blinken,” adding that the restrictions were extended “to decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant.”

"The Department of State continues to engage with Canada to counter the threat of COVID-19, and with our interagency partners to implement appropriate public health measures," the spokesperson said. "It is critical that any travel measures are implemented in a way that does not disrupt pandemic response efforts nor impede movement of essential travelers or critical medical supplies."

The letter was signed by Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), Maine Governor Janet MillsJanet MillsHochul makes New York the 31st state to have had a female governor Bipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions Maine shifting recycling costs to companies MORE (D), Minnesota Gov. Tim WalzTim WalzJudge rejects Minnesota parents' attempt to force statewide school mask mandate Former Minnesota Senate Republican leader announces campaign for governor Minnesota parents sue Gov. Walz over lack of mask mandate in schools MORE (D), Montana Gov. Greg GianforteGregory Richard GianforteMontana governor issues rules requiring schools to consider 'parental concerns' about masks Montana Gov. Gianforte allocates more than million in federal aid for school virus testing Bipartisan governors press Biden administration on Canadian border restrictions MORE (R), New Hampshire Gov. Chris SununuChris SununuTrump praises NH Senate candidate as Sununu weighs own bid Hassan launches first ad of reelection bid focusing on veterans' issues White House welcomes fight with GOP governors over vaccine mandates MORE (R), North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), Ohio Gov. Mike DeWineMike DeWineHundreds of Ohio state workers, spouses take advantage of 0 vaccine incentive Suspects in Whitmer kidnap plot discussed attacking Ohio governor, prosecutors say Cincinnati mayor announces Ohio gubernatorial campaign MORE (R), Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) and Washington Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeSeattle area to require COVID-19 vaccine to enter indoor venues Washington state troopers, firefighters sue over vaccine mandate Washington state enacting mask mandate for large outdoor events MORE (D).

Updated: 4:53 p.m.