'Absolutely Ridiculous' To Militarize U.S.-Canada Border Over COVID-19
BUFFALO, NY (WBFO) - Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) is blasting proposals in Washington to start sending American military to the U.S. border with Canada to help all of the federal agencies that now patrol the border.
America's longest undefended border totals around 4,400 miles and hasn't been
militarized since after the American Civil War.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told a news conference Thursday he is aware the proposal is being looked at by those who say it would help thwart the movement of COVID-19. He said Canada is in talks with the United States in hopes of avoiding the deployment. Trudeau said it is in the best interests of both countries that the world's longest unmilitarized border remain that way.
Washington is considering whether to deploy troops to intercept anyone trying to enter the U.S. illegally from Canada. Higgins said the proposal appears to be coming from xenophobic elements in the Trump Administration.
"Absolutely ridiculous that anybody would suggest 1,000 U.S. troops be assigned to the northern border," he said. "It's a waste of valuable military resources during a time of an acute public health crisis and a totally unncecessary aggressive front on a border we share with America's greatest ally."
The border is actually closed by both sides against non-essential travel right now.
While Western New York can see the water border, there are thousands of miles of land borders between the two countries with communities and Native American reservations split in some places by the border.
"United States-Canadian relations have been cordial, have been helpful," Higgins said. "The Southern Ontario-Western New York economies are inter-dependent and it just seems like an overly aggressive response to a problem that doesn't exist."
Higgins said if the military is going to be used in the coronavirus crisis, there are better uses, like flying in medical supplies to the most hard-hit areas.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.