Written for 7 News on July 6, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) – North country congresswoman Elise Stefanik is calling for the ‘phased’ reopening of the U.S. – Canada border.

In a letter, Stefanik and 29 other members of congress urged “a comprehensive framework” for reopening the border.

The letter comes as the ban on most travel between the U.S. and Canada is halfway through its fourth month.

The ban has been an inconvenience for thousands of people who live along the border and who are used to crossing back and forth between Canada and the U.S. relatively easily; it has shut down cross-border tourism and has had an unknown effect on trade between the two countries.

The ban has been extended three times, and some members of congress – including Stefanik – now say those repeated extensions are ‘untenable.’

The letter sent by Stefanik and the other members of congress went to to the Acting Secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

In it, they urged the national governments of both countries to do what states have done – set up standards for what can reopen and when, based on public health data and the expertise of health officials.

“This process alleviates uncertainty and allows residents to understand the decision-making and anticipate next steps.

“Continuing to extend border restrictions at 30-day intervals is untenable for the communities that have been separated from family and unable to tend to their property for over three months,” Stefanik and the others wrote.

The congressmen and women are also asking for “interim measures” to ease restrictions on family members separated by the border, and to ease restrictions on people who own property across the border.

The border was first closed on March 24, and is now closed through the end of July.

Essential travel is allowed, which includes:

– US citizens returning to the US

– Individuals traveling for medical purposes

– Individuals traveling to attend educational institutions or work

– Individuals traveling for emergency or government response

– Individuals engaged in lawful cross-border trade (e.g. cargo drivers)

– Members of the military

You can read the full article at https://www.wwnytv.com