Peters Asks Biden Administration to Increase Transparency on Northern Border Pandemic Travel Restrictions

Peters Continues to Fight to Expand Safe and Accessible Northern Border Travel for Michiganders

DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is asking the Biden Administration to prioritize communication and provide clear information to Michiganders and Americans on continuing land border travel restrictions at the Northern Border. In the letter, Peters requested additional information to ensure Michiganders are aware of current protocols, and requested that the Administration publicly disclose criteria driving the status of the protocols, and clearly state how they intend to begin easing travel restrictions while ensuring that health and safety protocols related to the pandemic are being followed.

“I, as well as my constituents from Michigan, have concerns about the impacts of land border travel restrictions on border communities—personal and economic. I share your goals to establish public health protocols that protect the lives of Americans, improve the safety of travel, and promote the revival of our economy. To achieve these goals, I urge you to consider several matters for public health protocols for travel at land ports of entry,” wrote Peters.

Peters continued: “We must also ensure public health protocols protect DHS frontline workers who have continued to facilitate trade and travel at land ports of entry throughout the pandemic. I appreciate your administration’s commitment to reviewing the public health measures at land ports of entry with a goal of making travel safe and galvanizing our economy.”

The letter also asks the administration consider how restrictions could be clarified or adjusted to address concerns of cross-border communities. These communities currently face unique challenges due to travel restrictions, which are made worse due to differences between U.S. and Canadian exemption policies for categories, such as family.

As the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has fought to strengthen border security and ensure secure and efficient lawful trade and travel at Michigan’s ports of entry. Peters has pressed for more personnel at Michigan’s border crossings to ensure that trade and travelers can cross safely and efficiently, and his bill to hire more agricultural inspectors at our ports of entry was signed into law last year. A bipartisan measure coauthored by Peters was signed into law requiring federal officials to assess all ports of entry, including finding ways to reduce wait times for passengers and cargo at the border. Peters has also fought to address inconsistencies in the cargo screening standards for Michigan’s ports, including the Port of Monroe, to ensure Michigan remains a key hub for international commerce.

Text of the letter is copied below and available here

February 26, 2020

Dear President Biden:

I write to request your consideration of several matters as you review agency recommendations for public health protocols at land borders following your Executive Order on Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel. I, as well as my constituents from Michigan, have concerns about the impacts of land border travel restrictions on border communities—personal and economic. I share your goals to establish public health protocols that protect the lives of Americans, improve the safety of travel, and promote the revival of our economy. To achieve these goals, I urge you to consider several matters for public health protocols for travel at land ports of entry.

In the implementation of public health measures at land ports of entry, it is essential to prioritize communication and clarity to our citizens. I have consistently raised the importance of transparent communication about the status of border restrictions with affected communities. As you consider public health protocols, I urge you to include procedures to clearly communicate current protocols, publicly disclose criteria driving any travel restrictions or measures, and the intended stages for off-ramping restrictions. It is also critical to provide clear information about what is required to determine an individual’s exemption from restrictions, such as proof of vaccination or other documentation.

The restrictions at land ports of entry, which were recently extended and will soon reach one full year, were urgently set into place at the beginning of the U.S. and Canada spread of the virus and have seen few changes. Over this period, Michigan’s cross-border communities have faced challenges conducting daily life. These communities have integrated economies and work forces, as evidenced by the thousands of healthcare workers that live in Canada and work in Detroit. Such challenges are compounded by differences between U.S. and Canadian exemption policies for categories, such as family. As I have previously asked the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), I urge the administration to consider how restrictions may be clarified or adjusted to address the concerns of cross-border communities as agencies engage the Canadian government to evaluate the status of public health measures.

We must also ensure public health protocols protect DHS frontline workers who have continued to facilitate trade and travel at land ports of entry throughout the pandemic. I appreciate your administration’s commitment to reviewing the public health measures at land ports of entry with a goal of making travel safe and galvanizing our economy.

In Michigan, cross-border travel is inherently essential and I look forward to working with you so that we may fully return to it.

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