SYRACUSE, NY (WRVO)—Just days after Canada agreed to open its border to non-essential travel for vaccinated Americans starting August 9, President Biden doubled down on keeping the northern land border closed on the U.S. side.
“All of a sudden the Biden administration, after months of bugging Canada to open the border, has now come out and said, ‘well, we’re not going to let it go until August,’” said Congressman John Katko, R–Camillus, a ranking member of the Homeland Security Committee. “It’s just really kind of a hypocritical policy.”
Along with the economic repercussions of the Canadian border closure, Katko said he has several friends who haven’t been able to see their families across the border in nearly two years.
“Their vaccination rates are where they should be in Canada,” said Katko. “Ours are where they should be in the United States and it’s time to get back to doing business.”
As elected officials across the U.S. urged Canada to reopen its border, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was very vocal that he wanted to reach a certain vaccination threshold before he allowed any non-essential travel.
As of July 22, over 70% of Canadians had at least one dose of the vaccine.
However, in a tweet, the Department of Homeland Security said that the closure extension–which applies to the southern border as well–was partially motivated by the desire to minimize the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
“DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably,” the agency said.
Katko is just one of several elected officials who condemned Biden’s decision to uphold the border closure. Others include Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, whose district runs along the northern border, and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, who represents New York.
“It is critical for the United States to level the playing field and create a uniform system, following the science and data, to safely and finally reopen the border for those vaccinated, and I will do everything in my power to ensure that happens as swiftly as possible,” said Schumer in a statement on Wednesday.
According to Biden and the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. borders will remain closed until at least August 21.