DETROIT – On Wednesday, Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and Debbie Dingell (MI-12) led bipartisan members of the Michigan House delegation in sending a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the Coronavirus Task Force, urging that he and the Administration keep the shared border with Canada— especially between Michigan and Ontario—open especially to healthcare workers and manufacturing supplies. Also copied on the letter were Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chriystia Freeland, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The letter comes amid a Twitter announcement from President Trump announcing the closure of the Canadian border to non-essential traffic and declaration of a national emergency in response to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The lawmakers are concerned that thousands of health professionals who cross the border every day from Canada might not be able to get to work during a time when medical professionals are critical.
The letter was signed by Reps. Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Debbie Dingell (MI-12), Jack Bergman (MI-01), Bill Huizenga (MI-02), John Moolenaar (MI-04), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Fred Upton (MI-06), Tim Walberg (MI-07), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Andy Levin (MI-09), Paul Mitchell (MI-10), Haley Stevens (MI-11), and Brenda Lawrence (MI-14).
“Thousands of our nurses and health care professionals live in Canada and travel between the two countries every day. Their employers need certainty that there is continuity of business operations, which are currently under a tremendous strain. It is our understanding that at Henry Ford Hospital alone, 1000 Canadian nurses and care providers commute across the border daily, 65 percent of whom are bedside nurses. Therefore, an inability to cross the Michigan-Canada border each day or significant delays will cripple Michigan hospitals as well as other medical facilities. Any shortages in frontline health care workers that deliver critically needed services could be detrimental as we combat this public health emergency,” the letter read.
The congressmembers also cited the manufacturing activity that would be impacted by a border closure. The President’s announcement did indicate that trade would not be impacted.
“Also, it is important to understand that the crossings between Michigan and Canada account for a quarter of the trade in the United States. The economy would be directly impacted by significant delays or closures. Roughly 400,000 individuals cross the border every day, many with deadlines for delivering cargo or reporting to work. This trade supports jobs throughout both countries. We must not forget this as we are considering additional measures to combat the spread of COVID-19,”the letter continued.
The full letter can be read here.