Tester to Biden Administration: Fully Reopen Northern Border

At a recent hearing, Senator grilled Secretary Mayorkas on Border Patrol staffing, reopening ports

Continuing his aggressive push to fully reopen the northern border, U.S. Senator Jon Tester pressed Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to finally end the vaccination mandate for international truck drivers and travelers entering the United States through land ports of entry, and to fully reopen all land ports along the U.S.-Canada border to pre-pandemic hours.

“We have made significant progress in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, and I continue to encourage all individuals to get vaccinated. However, we must also work to address inflation and improve the economy,” Tester wrote to DHS. “That’s why I am concerned about continued restrictions for land travel that disproportionally affect truck drivers from Canada who are responsible for bringing food, farm inputs, and other vital goods into the United States. I believe removing these restrictions for truck drivers and increasing trade with our neighbors is key to improving our supply chain and decreasing inflation.”

Tester concluded: “Reducing restrictions on international travel and restoring hours of operations at our land ports of entry will help the American economy stay strong. I stand ready to assist DHS in fully reopening the northern border, increasing trade, and improving our economy and national security.”

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement that it would end the COVID testing requirements for international travelers entering the United States by air, DHS has not announced any change in vaccine requirements for foreign travelers and truck drivers entering the country through land ports of entry. In April, DHS extended vaccination requirements for individuals entering the United States by land.

Tester has been Montana’s leading champion to reopen the northern border and ensure U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have the resources they need to secure the border and protect Montana communities. Earlier this month, Tester and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) led a bipartisan group of senators in urging the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Committee to provide CBP with the necessary resources to properly staff and secure the U.S.-Canada border in Fiscal Year 2023.

Last Month, Tester grilled Secretary Mayorkas about the Department’s plans for retaining Customs and Border Protection agents, securing the northern border, and restoring U.S.-Canada points of entry to pre-pandemic operating times.

Tester first called for the northern border to fully re-open in May 2021, urging the Biden Administration to work with Canadian officials to swiftly and safely open the border. He followed up with a letter to Department of Homeland (DHS) Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas pressing the Administration to move forward with the Canadian reopening in a “safe, fair, and efficient manner.” In November, the Biden Administration heeded Tester’s call and reopened the border to vaccinated travelers.

Montana shares a 545 mile border with Canada and is home to many border towns whose economies rely on Canadian trade and commerce. According to the Canadian Trade Commissioner, Canada is Montana’s top international trading partner, buying more from the state than the next six states combined. Reports by the U.S. Trade Representative estimate that Montana exported $692 million in goods to Canada is 2018, representing 42 percent of the state’s total goods exports.

Read Senator Tester’s letter HERE.