Midwest View: Biden administration’s slow border reopening is a slap in the face to northern U.S. residents

Midwest politicians are right to complain, and more politicians should be doing it. Perhaps if they do, the Biden administration will better understand the stomach-turning frustration that continues to grow along the northern border.

Herald pull quote, 7/24/21
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With the ongoing travel moratorium on the U.S.-Canada border, it seems the only thing crossing the line is the absurdity associated with it.

That’s essentially what North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said this week after it was announced the United States will continue travel restrictions on the border through Aug. 21 — nearly two weeks after Canada will loosen its restrictions on nonessential cross-border travel.

Burgum isn’t pleased, and said the decision "crossed the line from precautionary to preposterous.”

“Canada’s COVID-19 vaccination rate has surpassed our own, yet the Biden administration continues to stand in the way of a long-overdue reopening of the border with our closest ally and trading partner,” the governor said in a statement. “Even the co-chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus – a member of the president’s own party – called this decision ‘illogical’ and noted that the administration has failed to deliver on its promise in January to provide a border reopening plan within 14 days.”

The governor is right to complain, and more politicians should be doing it. Perhaps if they do, the Biden administration will better understand the stomach-turning frustration that continues to grow along the northern border. The U.S. decision to continue the restrictions beyond Canada’s opening is almost cruel, at least for the many people who live and do business along the border and who have spent 16 months – since March 2020 – in a state of limbo without the full ability to earn a living or see loved ones.


It also is one more split decision made between two countries that are longtime allies and important trade partners.

Earlier in the week, Canada announced it would open its borders to fully vaccinated U.S. citizens on Monday, Aug. 9. It was the first good news along the border since the closure came during those dark, early stages of the global pandemic.

But the joy was dashed by the announcement Wednesday that the U.S. will limit Canadians’ ability to cross the border for another 12 days.

Lest anyone think the disappointment is strictly partisan, consider the comments of U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat from New York. He issued a statement that said he is infuriated by the administration’s decision and called the move “illogical given the success of vaccines.” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz , also a Democrat, told the Grand Forks Herald this week that he is frustrated, too.

Meanwhile, places such as Grand Forks, Roseau, Warroad and Pembina continue to wait for our Canadian friends to return – to patronize our businesses, to eat at our restaurants, to fly from our airport and to renew relationships with friends and family.

Since the border has been closed for 16 months, the delay on lifting the restrictions isn’t a life-or-death matter. Twelve more days probably won’t doom a business or a relationship.

But after the months of complaints, pleas and testimonials about the tribulations experienced due to the border closure, those extra 12 days are an unnecessary slap in the face for this region’s residents.

The U.S. should open the border on Aug. 9, in conjunction with Canada’s opening.


This Midwest Opinion editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the Grand Forks Herald.

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