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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Binational Opposition to Trusted Traveler Program Removal

February 21, 2020

 

The Honorable Chad F. Wolf
Acting Secretary
United States Department of Homeland Security 3801 Nebraska Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20528

Re: Binational Opposition to Trusted Traveler Program Removal

Dear Acting-Secretary Wolf: Canada and the United States of America are linked by much more than a border. Our nations are connected by commerce and common interests. A commitment to open trade has made North America the world’s most competitive region, looking towards a future of limitless potential powered by free enterprise. The United States Department of Homeland Security (OHS] removal of New York State from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP] Trusted Traveler Programs (Global Entry, FAST, SENTRI, and NEXUS] threatens the future of a robust international gateway and a shared culture. The border debate is not abstract or political for our regional job creators and citizens. 40 percent of trucks crossing the Peace Bridge rely on the FAST program and 25 percent of cars use NEXUS, with that percentage growing during the tourism season. Every day that this suspension continues will undoubtedly cost money, jobs, and time, dissolving the market confidence that our region has worked so hard to create despite years of economic challenges. Every day that this suspension continues does real financial and societal harm. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce (GNCC] urge the OHS to suspend its decision to remove New York State from the Trusted Traveler Program until a more reasonable solution can be reached.

Together, our organizations represent thousands of vital employers and a bi-national population of over eight million people. We generate over $400 billion in gross domestic product, with more than 680,000 jobs in New York State depending on trade and investment with Canada. The Niagara region in Canada is home to 930 companies generating $4.5 billion CAD of direct trade with the United States, supporting 33,450 jobs. With a variety of industries contributing to this growth, the economic relationship between Canada and the United States was only predicted to prosper until the announcement of New York’s Trusted Traveler Program removal. We recognize that international border safety is a serious issue. However, the vague nature of this suspension is more punitive than policy-driven, with its recent debate too focused on personal conflicts rather than public compromises. Our shared job-creating economy should be supported and celebrated by policymakers, not punished by them. The Partnership, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and the GNCC encourage the OHS and the State of New York to immediately come together in support of a more equitable border solution in a collaborative and fact-based spirit. Sincerely,

Signed,

Dottie Gallagher
President & CEO
The Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Keanin Loomis
President & CEO
Hamilton Chamber of Commerce

Mishka Balsam
President & CEO
Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

cc: The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo, New York State Governor
The Honorable Charles E. Schumer, United States Senator
The Honorable Kirsten E. Gillibrand, United States Senator
The Honorable Brian D. Higgins, Member of Congress
The Honorable Tom W. Reed, Member of Congress
Mr. Dean Allison, M.P.
Mr. Vance Badawey, M.P.
Mr. Tony Baldinelli, M.P.
Mr. Chris Bittle, M.P.