Threat of Changing NAFTA Affects Border Crossing Workers

Scrutiny of NAFTA raises concerns for cross-border commuters

More from Dave Battagello, Windsor Star
Published on: March 22, 2017 | Last Updated: March 22, 2017 8:33 PM EDT

Thousands of Windsor area commuters who travel into Detroit for work should “proceed with caution” as U.S. legislators review immigration policies and reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement, local border experts say.

“On a daily basis I’m asked by those who work there (in Michigan) or applying for jobs about their situation,” said Laurie Tannous, a local lawyer who specializes in immigration issues and is special adviser to the University of Windsor’s Cross-Border Institute. “I’m telling everyone to proceed with caution.

“The landscape we are in today offers no certainty.”

NAFTA since its inception more than 20 years ago spells out specific job titles allowing Canadians to obtain visas and hold jobs in Michigan.

But that list is outdated with no connection to today’s world of technology and other new specialized skills.
It was partially for that reason specialized nurses were being detained and had their visa temporarily revoked last week by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.

“There needs to be an expansion of the descriptions for an engineer or a nurse who has specialized skills,” Tannous said.

“What we are seeing is that (some customs officers) have started saying ‘we are going to enforce the laws that are here.’”

It’s been a shock for Windsor area residents who for years have held full-time employment — often in high-ranking auto sector or health care jobs. For the first time, they are being asked questions by U.S. immigration or customs officials at the border “much different than in the past,” Tannous said.

“What I have been advising everyone to do is make sure they speak with their employers and human resources department,” she said. “They are handling the visas, they have in-house staff or outside counsel handling a lot of this.”

The border crackdown in Detroit on commuters actually started to occur before the Trump administration was in place, said local immigration lawyer Drew Porter.

Over time, many Windsorites have moved into jobs not on the NAFTA list or promoted to positions different from when they were originally admitted — such as an engineer who moved into sales or a front-line health care worker who takes a management position.

Porter said pushback by labour and political leaders in the U.S. under President Donald Trump’s “hire American” campaign is also leading to greater enforcement at the border.

“It’s been over 20 years since NAFTA went into effect so it’s not unreasonable to take a look at what’s working or not,” he said. “Even before the election we were seeing instances where (U.S. Customs) was starting to limit certain work permits.”

There has also been some “mischaracterization” of jobs, which has created some “mistrust,” Porter said.

“(Customs) officers have a difficult job to do,” Porter said. “Some clarity would help everyone, but it would also be foolish to make any stark changes to the detriment of the economies of both countries. If this is done right, we will all benefit.”

Local MP Brian Masse has been among a team of 12 Canadian MPs and Senators who have been in Washington since Monday meeting with U.S. counterparts in Congress and the Senate.

“It’s definitely clear they are going to reopen NAFTA,” Masse said. “It’s a priority for them. Once you do that, it’s a crapshoot how far it goes.”

Since many jobs held by Windsorites who commute are “in a grey zone,” an update is needed, he said.

“Things have changed,” Masse said. “Too many people do not meet the (NAFTA) categories as purely as before. But many of these jobs are those where Americans need and want our labour force or else it creates problems for them.”

Masse is reasonably “comfortable” both the health care sector and auto sector jobs in Michigan held by Windsorites will be protected.

“A lot of this works in our favour because of a skill shortage,” he said. “But it will be our negotiators versus theirs. Whether the (same jobs) will remain open, nobody knows.

“We are telling people to control what you can. Make sure all your information is up to date, relevant and ready for review.”

Scrutiny of NAFTA raises concerns for cross-border commuters

Q and A with Canadian Ambassador David MacNaughton


 MARCH 19, 2017 3:00 PM

NAFTA, free trade and jobs, oil pipelines are all on Canadian ambassador’s plate


A spur of the moment decision to attend a student Liberal Party convention when David MacNaughton was in college that was influenced more by his interest in a fellow female student than politics serendipitously launched a political career that has taken him to Washington as the Canadian ambassador to the United States.

Along the way, he served in provincial government posts and as an adviser to the minister at the Departments of Transport, Industry and Foreign Affairs as well as built a successful career in public affairs and public relations.

MacNaughton was in Florida recently for a rocket launch at Kennedy Space Center, to visit the Canadian Consulate in Miami and to pay a call at the Southern Command in Doral.

He said he makes a concerted effort to get out of Washington. “I’ve been to Boston, New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, San Diego,” MacNaughton said during an interview at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. “I’m going to Houston later in the week and now I’m here.”

Florida, he said, is a very important economic partner for Canada. Not only is Canada the top destination for Florida agricultural products, but two-way trade between the state and Canada tops $8 billion annually and Canadians make more than 4 million annual visits to Florida, spending more than $5 billion. That easily makes Canada the state’s No. 1 tourism market.

Florida also is a big destination for Canadian investment, and Canadians hold around $50 billion in residential real estate in the state.

MacNaughton took up his post in Washington last March, and now with a new American president in the White House, he must deal with such hot-button issues as the potential reopening of NAFTA negotiations and the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would run from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada, to Steele City, Nebraska.

While president, Barack Obama rejected a bid to build the pipeline, citing its impact on climate change. But in the first days of his administration, President Donald Trump took executive actions that would expedite the approval process for both the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines.

Q. How would you characterize Canada’s relationship with the new U.S. administration?

A. I think it’s very good. Since the inauguration we’ve had very positive dealings with all of the members of [Trump’s] staff leading up to the visit of the prime minister to Washington. I spent 3 1/2 hours at the White House one day and two hours the next. [Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the nation’s capital Feb. 13.]

I think this administration has been responsive and forthcoming and professional. It’s going very well on a relationship basis. We still have some tough issues to deal with, but I think the prime minister’s visit to Washington went extremely well.

Q. One thing that seems somewhat resolved is the future of the Keystone XL pipeline. Are you confident that it will now be built?

A. I don’t see any obstacles at the federal level for it to move ahead. Obviously there are a few things that have to happen in Nebraska, but I’m optimistic they can be resolved. They have a process, a regulatory process. under way, but the governor of Nebraska has been positive of late so hopefully all will go well. We’re pretty confident.

Q. What is Canada’s position on reopening NAFTA negotiations as President Trump has said he wants to do?

A. I think it was the day after the election when I was interviewed and I said that we were more than happy to have discussions about improvements to NAFTA. We will try to focus on areas where it would be beneficial to the United States and Canada and Mexico also. There have been 11 or 12 changes since NAFTA was first signed in 1993 and there are improvements that could be made and we’re open to having those discussions. I think it has to be beneficial to all three countries.

Q. What about Trump’s rationale for reopening NAFTA, that the treaty has resulted in a big loss of American jobs? Do you agree with his assessment?

A. There are those who think that NAFTA hasn’t been as beneficial to the United States as they would have liked it to be. There certainly hasn’t been a drain of jobs out of Canada to the United States. The reality is that our trade is more or less in balance. Take manufacturing trade, the United States has a surplus with Canada. The president has said that as far as Canada is concerned, it will be more tweaking [of NAFTA] than anything — tweaking, not tweeting.

Q. What about the idea that free trade agreements, in general, are causing the United States to lose manufacturing jobs?

A. I think there are other factors involved, but one has to realize that among a certain segment of the U.S. population, particularly the middle class, that wages are static and that has caused some anxiety. It’s always easier to blame someone else than it is to look at job loss as the result of technology and other things.

There are also countries whose markets aren’t as open as those of Canada and the United States. Something that we’ve indicated to this administration and the last administration is what we’d like to do in partnership with the United States to deal with those issues and those countries that may be dumping products in North America. In fact, we have been working with the United States or steel and aluminum to prevent the overcapacity in some countries that has caused substantial problems in North America.

Q. In auto assembly, certain parts may cross the border several times during the manufacturing process. Are there other products that are jointly produced?

A. There are many things from soft drinks to lipstick that go back and forth between borders during the manufacturing process. We make things together and sell them to the rest of the world.

Q. Do you think that message is being lost?

A. I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job of making people aware of it. It is very much the problem of the Canada-U.S. relationship that it works so well it goes unnoticed and then the only time it gets noticed is when something happens that disrupts it — more often than not, that’s not by design but accidental. We get inadvertently caught up in things when the United States is trying to deal with something that also affects us.

But what we’ve got to do is a better job of convincing and demonstrating to Americans that their prosperity is very much dependent on continued trade, investment and tourism with Canada. If you look at the 4 million Canadians that visit Florida every year, the 400 Canadian companies that have investments here — quite apart from the 625,000 jobs that depend on investment and selling things to Canada — it’s a pretty important relationship.

But I suspect most Floridians don’t have a clue of that.

Q. I think Floridians are aware of the snowbirds, but beyond that maybe not so much. What are some of the major Canadian investments here?

A. Most of our banks are here. There’s TD (Toronto Dominion Bank), RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), Bank of Montreal, National Bank of Canada, the Desjardins Group [of credit unions].

Emera, which has a regional office in Tampa, also purchased TECO Energy. [Other Florida holdings by Canadian companies include Circle K convenience stores and Mayors Jewelers.]

Q. What do you think about Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the southern border of the United States with Mexico?

A. I think that’s probably an area that I’ll leave the United States and Mexico to deal with. I was on a panel with the Mexican ambassador, and someone asked me if I had any advice for the Mexicans, and I said no because we are actually going to build a bridge between Canada and the United States and the United States has gotten us to pay for it. The state of Michigan and United States refused to pay for it, so we’re putting up all the money.

[The Gordie Howe International Bridge will span the Detroit River between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, and carry 30 percent of trade between Canada and the United States. The Canadian government has promised to fully back the $4.5 billion project through a public/private partnership.]

I told the Mexican not to bother asking me for advice. Over time, I think we’ll recover our investment [on the bridge], if not directly, then certainly indirectly.

David MacNaughton

Position: Canadian ambassador to the United States

Career: Became Canadian ambassador to the U.S. in March 2016; chairman, Strategy Corp., 2005-2016; board chair, Aereus Technologies, 2015-2016; board chair, Comcare Ltd., 2007-2010; principal secretary to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty; 2003-05; senior adviser, CIBC Capital Markets, 2000-2003; president and chief executive, Strathshore Financial, 1996-2000; president and CEO, Canada area, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, 1989-94; president, Public Affairs Resource Group, 1981-89: also served as campaign chair for the Ontario Liberal Party, president of KinMac Consultants and executive assistant to former Liberal Party leader Don Jamieson.

Education: Bachelor’s, in political science and history, University of New Brunswick, 1971.

Personal: Born in Ancaster, Ontario, now a part of the city of Hamilton. Married; has four daughters.

Read more here:

Moroun Finds Excuse to Tear Down Windsor Homes

Ambassador Bridge plans to demolish Indian Road homes for emergency repairs


More from Craig Pearson, Windsor Star

Published on: March 17, 2017 | Last Updated: March 17, 2017 8:56 PM EDT

Ambassador Bridge officials intend to tear down vacant homes on the east side of Indian Road soon in order to make emergency repairs demanded by the federal government, the head of the company’s Canadian arm said Friday in court.

And they don’t need the City of Windsor’s approval to do it, Dan Stamper, president of the Canadian Transit Company, testified.

Three emergency repair orders from Transport Canada in less than a year mean the homes must be demolished — something the city has blocked for years — as soon as the bridge company completes an engineering report and purchases the required materials, he said.

“We have the obligation to maintain an 85-year-old bridge,” Stamper said. “The federal government gave us an emergency directive and I have to do the maintenance. And the only way to do the maintenance according to our experts is to remove the homes on the east side of Indian.”

Stamper said Transport Canada has already been informed in writing about the demolition plans and that the city will be notified in advance.

The estate of Stephen Chaborek, who died on the weekend, and five members of the Desando family who also own two homes in Olde Sandwich Towne are suing the Canadian Transit Company for $16.5 million in damages — alleging that boarding up homes and allowing them to decay hurts the neighbourhood.

William Sasso, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, expressed surprise Friday over the bridge’s plans and wondered what documentation gives the company authority to demolish homes.

“We’re not talking about the contractors the CTC deals with, we’re talking about the federal government and whether they have given a directive that permits the demolition of these properties,” Sasso said. “That’s news to us. And I haven’t seen such documentation.”

Stamper said the company only requires city approval to demolish homes for construction. It does not need city approval for demolition if it’s required to complete repairs dictated by Transport Canada, because it’s a federal entity, he said.

The Ambassador Bridge originally proposed building a second approach to the span, then closing down the current approach in order to rebuild it, but the federal government nixed the idea. Stamper said short of closing the bridge, there’s no other way to make significant repairs without demolishing homes to allow for needed equipment.

“They don’t need permission if it’s a federal undertaking,” defence lawyer Sheila Block said. “The city will be notified. Maybe they will go and try to get an injunction. But we’re not doing this in the dead of night.”

Earlier in the day, Stamper suggested the city has a conflict of interest when it comes to preventing the Ambassador Bridge from building a second span.

“We have applied for and have been denied the right to demolish the homes because the city is concerned more about litigation than they are about the safety and security of the community,” Stamper testified.

Stamper said the city is the Ambassador Bridge’s No. 1 competitor, since it owns the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, and therefore has a financial stake in blocking the bridge from expanding. Plus, he said the city sold property for $34 million to the federal government to make way for the proposed Gordie Howe International Bridge to be built just two kilometres east of the Ambassador Bridge.

Sasso asked how much revenue the bridge collected in tolls in 2016. Stamper estimated it was about $40 million on the Canadian side and $40 million on the American side.

Again under cross-examination, Stamper acknowledged that the bridge has partially contributed to the poor state of area homes, though he said it has nevertheless maintained the properties as required by municipal code.

“Do you agree with me, Mr. Stamper, that you have allowed all of the houses that you’ve purchased to fall into a state of extreme disrepair?” Sasso asked.

“I agree that these homes are older homes and some of the effects over the last few years would add to the effects that happened over 50 years,” said Stamper, who noted that the company started buying Windsor property in the early 1990s with the goal of demolishing them.

Sasso also wondered if the company’s property on the west side of Indian Road would ever serve a business function. Stamper said they might be needed to aid in construction of the second span one day.

The cross-examination of Stamper continues Monday in front of Superior Court Justice Thomas Carey.

“As far as I’m concerned, there’s very little merit to your motion,” Colombo told Cox…

Wayne County judge denies Moroun’s bid to ‘delay’ bridge construction

Moroun’s companies have rejected MDOT’s land purchase offers

Photo by Larry PeplinMDOT offered a Moroun company $11.5 million for a portion of his 42-acre Central Transport trucking terminal on Jefferson Avenue.

A Wayne County judge on Wednesday denied Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun’s request to dismiss condemnation proceedings on properties he owns in the pathway of a new Detroit River bridge.

“The defendants … have a long history of taking action to delay the building of the Gordie Howe International Bridge,” Wayne County Circuit Court Chief Judge Robert Colombo Jr. said. “This is just another example of their attempt to delay construction of this bridge.”

Moroun’s legal team, led by former Attorney General Mike Cox, asked the judge to dismiss the Michigan Department of Transportation’s condemnation proceedings on 17 Moroun-owned properties in southwest Detroit until the Michigan Court of Claims hears another Moroun lawsuit challenging the legality of the project.

“As far as I’m concerned, there’s very little merit to your motion,” Colombo told Cox during a Wednesday morning court hearing in Detroit.

Cox had argued that MDOT’s condemnation of Moroun’s land in the pathway of a new bridge and toll and customs plaza could not be adjudicated in Circuit Court while Moroun’s companies are contesting the legality of the condemnation in a different courtroom.

“Our claim isn’t about money. Our claim is about authority,” Cox said. “… We can’t bring Gov. Snyder into this courtroom in a condemnation proceeding. We have to take it where the Legislature told us to take it.”

In early December, MDOT offered a Moroun company $11.5 million for a portion of his 42-acre Central Transport trucking terminal on Jefferson Avenue. Up to one-third of the 300-bay trucking terminal and a fuel station at the facility may need to be demolished to make way for the bridge’s landing ramps.

 Six Moroun-owned companies with property in Delray filed a lawsuit on Dec. 29 against Gov. Rick Snyder, MDOT and the Michigan Strategic Fund contending the condemnation proceedings are illegal because the Legislature never authorized construction of the bridge.

The lawsuit was filed five days before MDOT’s deadline for Moroun companies to accept the agency’s “good faith” offer for the properties it is buying on behalf of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority, which is overseeing the $4.5 billion infrastructure project.

Colombo called the lawsuit “a pre-emptive strike,” agreeing with MDOT’s private attorney that Moroun “ran” to the Court of Claims to get ahead of a condemnation lawsuit being filed in Wayne County Circuit Court.

“It appears to me the claims filed by the defendants in the Court of Claims is an attempt to stall or delay the condemnation proceedings,” the judge said.

Moroun’s companies are among a handful of businesses that have rejected MDOT’s purchase offers for land the agency needs to build the bridge and plaza.

But unlike Moroun, most of the other business owners are trying to get more money out of MDOT for their property and relocation costs.

Mark Zausmer, a special assistant attorney general representing MDOT, argued Wednesday in court that the condemnation process favors property owners if a case goes to a jury trial.

 dd”There’s a reason why Michigan’s eminent domain statute has been recognized as probably one of the most property owner-friendly statutes in the country in terms of compensation,” said Zausmer, a shareholder at the Farmington Hills law firm Zausmer, August & Caldwell, P.C.

Zausmer, who helped author the state’s eminent domain laws, said the expanded rights of property owners to more money for their property comes with a trade-off that government agencies can get quick access to the property for public infrastructure projects.

“The trade was simple: In exchange for all of those extraordinary protections that a property owner was given on their money, the agency was given one thing — and one thing only — and that is that public projects are not going to be held up by a single owner whether it was for money for some other purpose,” Zausmer said.

After Colombo made his ruling in MDOT’s favor, Zausmer predicted Moroun would “run to the Court of Appeals.”

Cox asked Colombo to stay his ruling pending an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. The judge denied the request and again cited Moroun’s “long history in attempting to frustrate” the construction of a new bridge to Canada.

“I think Judge Colombo’s very smart, but I just think he had it wrong,” Cox said after the hearing.

Chad Livengood: (313) 446-1654

Twitter: @ChadLivengood

95 year old Turns Tables on Moroun


‘It’s politics’: Windsor man, 95, sues transit company for bridge project that turned neighbourhood into ‘slum’

Sarah Sacheli, Postmedia News | March 7, 2017 4:33 PM ET

More from Postmedia News

Jason Kryk/The Windsor Star

In a civil trial that epitomizes the showdown between David and Goliath, a 95-year-old bedridden man Monday took the Canadian operator of the Ambassador Bridge to court.

Stephen Chaborek, along with five members of the Desando family who also own homes in Olde Sandwich Towne, are suing the Canadian Transit Company. They are seeking $16.5 million in damages for turning their once pleasant neighbourhood into a “slum.”

At issue are a swath of homes the bridge company has purchased and boarded up over the past two decades. The CTC says it wants to tear down the rotting structures, but the City of Windsor has used heritage bylaws to prevent demolition.

The outcome of the trial could have biblical implications for CTC; waiting in the wings are four similar lawsuits by the owners of 26 other properties in the neighbourhood. The lawsuits, also brought by Sutts, Strosberg, claim the condition of the houses constitute a “nuisance”and pose an ongoing threat to neighbours.

“The only way to make them move is to sue them,” Chaborek said in a videotaped statement shown in court Monday. Given Chaborek’s age and the fact he can’t physically attend the proceedings, the videotaped deposition takes the place of court testimony. In the video, Chaborek said there was a sudden decline of the neighbourhood after the bridge company began buying up homes in the area.

CTC lawyer Sheila Block, in an opening address to the court, pointed to a 1996 report and said the bridge company’s plans to amass land to build a second span and safely repair the existing structure has never been a secret.

Block said the bridge company embarked on a “limited and careful property acquisition plan,” paying fair market value or higher for houses on and around Indian Road. She argued the “nuisance,” if any, is the city’s fault because it won’t let CTC raze the homes. If the buildings were demolished, residents would have green space to enjoy, she said.

In a related lawsuit, CTC is suing the city for exposing it to the lawsuits from property owners. And, in yet another lawsuit, the CTC is challenging work orders the city issued for 114 properties the company owns. That issue went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada which ruled the trial should be scheduled to be heard in Superior Court in Windsor.

‘All these people loved their homes. They took care of them. The neighbourhood was nice’

“It’s not in the public interest to keep these buildings up,” Block told the court Monday. “It’s politics. It’s not the merits of whether these things should be taken down.”

Block argued the bridge company provides a “public service.” It was never the company’s intent to “terrorize the neighbourhood.”

Neighbourhoods change and when they do, residents shouldn’t turn to the courts, Block said. “You have no right to insist on your neighbourhood being the way it once was.”

Chaborek, a former autoworker who served in the navy during the Second World War, described driving through Sandwich in the early 1950s and coming upon a sign for a lot for sale on Indian Road.

There were schools in the area, a shopping district, doctors, dentists and other amenities an “established neighbourhood” should have.

He paid $700 for the lot and Chaborek, who had always worked with his hands, built the home himself.

For the video, Chaborek dug up family photos taken in 1957 and 1962 outside the home. The photos of him, his wife and two young girls, offered glimpses of what the neighbourhood looked like at the time.

“All these people loved their homes. They took care of them. The neighbourhood was nice.”

Then, he said, “The bridge came along and started wrecking everything… The bridge started buying homes and everything started to get slummy.”

The bridge tried three times to buy him out, Chaborek said. He refused. “I built this house and I’m going to stay here till the end.”

Directly across the street from Chaborek’s home is a boarded-up house surrounded by a wire fence — “the same kind of fence they use in the prisons.”


Chaborek said the abandoned homes are a haven for raccoons, skunks and “hobos.” At first, the properties were allowed to become overgrown. When residents complained about the weeds, the bridge company began vindictively cutting the grass every other day, Chaborek said.

Property values in the area have plummeted. Chaborek’s home was assessed in 2005 at $135,000. By 2012 it was worth $114,000.

Questioned by a CTC lawyer in the video, Chaborek says he is suing to revive the neighbourhood.

“Maybe instead of wrecking homes they might fix them up and people will be living there.”

The trial is scheduled for three weeks before Superior Court Justice Thomas Carey.

Another Shocker! Moroun Files Another Lawsuit

Ambassador Bridge owner claims Michigan is costing him toll revenue

By Gus Burns | 

on February 21, 2017 at 1:37 PM, updated February 21, 2017 at 1:39 PM

Matty Moroun and his Detroit International Bridge Company claim the state is improperly diverting trucks hauling hazardous cargo from crossing the Ambassador Bridge and cheating the company out of millions in tolls.

The bridge company, which has been at odds with state efforts to build a competing span, the Gordie Howe International Bridge projected to be completed in 2020, claims the state is creating hazardous materials routes that prohibit truckers from crossing the Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor without the authority to do so.

The claims were made in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday naming Michigan Department of Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle as a defendant.

“MDOT’s jurisdiction is limited to state trunkline highways and does not extend to private

property,” says the lawsuit filed by the Mike Cox law firm in Livonia. “The Ambassador Bridge is privately-owned and is not a state trunkline highway.”

The bridge company is asking the court to order MDOT to end any routing related to passage of hazardous materials using the bridge.

Commercia semi crossing tolls can increase to in excess of $75 each way for wide loads and up to $6.75 per axle, based on weight, according to the bridge website.

Moroun’s company has indicated plans to build a new private bridge to run parallel to the Ambassador Bridge.

The nearly 90-year-old Ambassador Bridge would receive upgrades but only be used for emergency travel if a new span were built, planners say.

Moroun purchased Ambassador Bridge in 1979.

Read the full lawsuit:

Ambassador Bridge sues Michigan Department of Transportation by on Scribd

Great Lakes members of Congress push Bridge Project

Great Lakes delegates try to get Trump’s attention with priorities letter

Garret Ellison | By Garret Ellison |

on February 13, 2017 at 5:55 PM, updated February 14, 2017 at 11:46 AM

Members of Congress representing Great Lakes states hope to grab President Donald Trump attention with a letter to the White House that outlines key regional priorities that delegates hope to work on with the new administration.

The letter, dated Feb. 8, was signed by 20 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, from the eight Great Lakes states in the U.S. House of Representatives.

It extends congratulations on Trump’s ascendance to the White House and outlines economic interests of the Great Lakes region like continued emphasis on pollution cleanup and new investments in maritime infrastructure.

The letter specifies the importance of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the threat posed to the sport fishing industry by invasive Asian carp, and highlights the economic importance of upgrading the Soo Locks.

A leaked list of Trump infrastructure project priorities in the Great Lakes region include the Soo Locks, Detroit’s M-1 Rail streetcar transit system, and the new international bridge between Detroit and Canada.

“We expect the president will take our concerns seriously and have no reason to doubt that he won’t,” said Brian Patrick, spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, co-chair of the Great Lakes Task Force.

Patrick said the letter was sent directly to the White House, where he expects administration staff will help elevate the concerns to Trump, who, in the past few days, has been dealing with the test-firing of a ballistic missile by North Korea, the fallout from his attempt to ban refugees from seven Muslim countries and meeting with the prime ministers of Canada and Japan.

Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday, Feb. 13 in Washington and the two issued a joint statement, released by Trudeau’s office, affirming a “longstanding commitment to close cooperation in addressing both the challenges facing our two countries and problems around the world.”

The statement includes mention of the Gordie Howe International Bridge between Windsor and Detroit, of which the two leaders look forward to the “expeditious completion” of, as well as a pledge to move forward on “energy infrastructure projects that will create jobs while respecting the environment.”

The energy infrastructure statements follow the U.S. State Department’s Feb. 10 finding of no significant negative environmental impact from Enbridge Inc.’s permit application to boost capacity on its Alberta Clipper cross-border pipeline, which could move up to 800,000 barrels-per-day of tar sands oil from Alberta across North Dakota and Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin if approved.

The statement specifically mentions the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline, a controversial project blocked by Barack Obama, which Trump has revived.

“We also look forward to building on our many areas of environmental cooperation, particularly along our border and at the Great Lakes, and we will continue to work together to enhance the quality of our air and water,” read the statement.