Niagara border crossings slow as Nexus offices remain closed

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Published July 22, 2022 at 2:16 pm

Due to a dispute with the U.S., Canada's Nexus offices remain closed despite a backlog of applications.

If there’s serious border crossing delays at the Queenston-Lewiston bridge in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls or the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, it’s because there’s a dispute going on regarding American custom officers.

Nexus enrolment centres have remained closed in Canada more than three months after they reopened south of the border, due in part to a clash over U.S. agents’ right to carry guns on Canadian soil.


The standoff has led to a massive backlog in applications for the program, which allows pre-approved travellers to cross the border more quickly.

The Canada Border Services Agency says the number of Nexus applications has ballooned from 270,000 in April to more than 341,000 at a time when travel delays are wreaking havoc on passengers’ summer plans.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed the hold-up revolves around legal protections for its Nexus office staff.

“One example could include the authority to carry or have access to a firearm while on duty,” spokesperson Rhonda Lawson said in an email.

Two senior Canadian government sources told The Canadian Press the U.S. wants its customs officers who work in Nexus centres to have the same protections guaranteed to its other preclearance officers on Canadian soil under a binational agreement, with sidearms as a major sticking point in the talks.

About 75 per cent of current Nexus members are Canadian citizens, and another three per cent are permanent residents, according to the border agency.

While Canadians are allowed to head to one of 13 Nexus centres in the U.S. – all are located near the border – many locations have no appointments available. “Current interview wait time: 1 year,” states the website for the enrolment centre in Port Huron, Mich.

The delay is affecting Canadian tourism and causing inconvenience for frequent border crossers.

“If you had more people with Nexus, they get through faster and they don’t clog up the other line,” said Jill Wykes, editor of Snowbird Advisor, an online resource for Snowbirds.

“Many other government offices are open,” she said. “I think it’s inexcusable.”

– Files from Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

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