U.S. to open land borders

U.S. Customs officers stand beside a sign saying that the U.S. border is closed at the U.S./Canada border in Lansdowne, Ontario, on March 22, 2020. Lars Hagberg/AFP via Getty Images/TNS

MALONE — The Biden Administration announced Monday that the U.S.-Canada border closure has been extended by another month, to Oct. 21.

State politicians and local associations expressed their grievances toward the extension of the closure.

“The announcement that the United States-Canada border closure has been extended until Oct. 21 while air travel for vaccinated foreign travelers will be permitted starting in November is disappointing and infuriating. It makes absolutely no sense to allow people to fly to the United States when they are not permitted to cross by land,” said Assemblyman D. Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay Lake, in a public statement. “Why is air travel prioritized over land travel when so many people who live along the Canadian border who have been separated from their loved ones for over a year cannot afford the time or expense it takes to fly to the United States? Federal, state and local leaders across the North Country have continuously pushed the Biden administration to reopen the land border between the United States and Canada but our pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Reopening the land border between the United States and Canada needs to be prioritized and I will not stop advocating for the border to reopen until proper action is taken.”

State Sen. Dan Stec, R-Queensbury, expressed similar sentiments.

“The Biden administration is really out of touch given the unified and repeated calls among business leaders and local, state and federal officials on both sides of the aisle who have called for the border to reopen,” Stec said in a public statement. “The President’s decision to continue shutting out our Canadian neighbors while very disappointing isn’t all too surprising given the dearth of information from the White House. In comparison to what we read and hear about on the southern border of the U.S., reopening the northern border would seem very straightforward, safe and, simply, the right thing to do. We need to keep pushing. As I’ve said before, Governor Hochul should join our effort to get this message through to President Biden.”

Local officials also weighed in.

“I’m extremely frustrated with the extension. For one we need to connect the families that struggle to cross the border to see their families and caring for their loved ones,” Malone Mayor Andrea Dumas said. “The economic impact of having the border crisis has hurt our communities, second homes, camps, vacation rentals and the economic impact on our business. We have opened travel and events for everything else in the world. We need to move forward.”

Businesses are also impacted by the extended closure, according to the Malone Chamber of Commerce.

“Statistically, 65%-66% of local businesses depend on Canadian visitors for essential revenue such as the Malone Golf Course, Titus Mountain Ski Resort, and the Franklin County Fair Association. The closure of the border at this point is ludicrous,” said Mary Scharf, president of the Malone Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of businesses are hurting from this prolonged closure of the border. People on the other side of the border are just as vaccinated as we are.”

According to data reports provided by Franklin County Manager Donna Kissane, and information provided by the Franklin County Department of Public Health, just under 50% of Franklin County residents are fully vaccinated with approximately 53% of residents receiving their first doses. Franklin County is currently below 200 total active cases as of Tuesday, Sept. 21, with 195 active cases.

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