DERBY LINE – Vermont’s congressional delegation is demanding a plan to reopen the U.S. – Canada border, as well as calling on the Biden administration to immediately lift what most see as an unfair border policy that has directly targeted families and businesses in border communities.
On May 21, the Biden administration extended travel restrictions at all land ports of entry between the United States and Canada.
The restrictions, which have been in effect since March 21, 2020, specifically prohibit all “non-essential” travel.
The Biden administration has defined family reunification, or families separated by the border, as “non-essential,” while at the same time listing sports teams as “essential.”
“Visitation of friends and family is non-essential,” the latest statement extending the border closure reads. “Additionally, as professional sports teams begin to resume operation, travel by athletes through land ports of entry to participate in sporting events are considered essential.”
Biden’s border policy is seen as unfairly impacting places like Derby Line, Vermont, and Stanstead, Quebec, where family and binational couples could normally drive across the border to see each other within five minutes.
Reunification for border families has turned into a 9-hour journey that includes an international flight, just to cross a border literally in their backyards.
Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders, and Representative Peter Welch sent a letter to the Biden administration late Monday urging him to work with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to allow additional travel between the United States and Canada.
The congressional delegation is asking the administration to add additional essential traveler classes for those able to cross the border and to continue to work towards the appropriate milestones that would allow for the safe reopening of the border.
“Families throughout Vermont, especially those in our border communities, have gone well over a year without seeing loved ones across the border,” the letter reads. “They have missed celebrations, goodbyes, births, and other milestones that they will not be able to get back.”
Small businesses in both Canada and the United States have also struggled to stay afloat as regular cross-border travel has all but disappeared.
In November of 2020, the Canadian government made exemptions to allow families of Canadians to cross the land border to reunite.
Many politicians on the northern border, both Democrat and Republican, have long said a similar policy could be implemented almost instantly.
Biden has rejected this option five times since taking office.