By Matthew Herchik
September 9, 2021
CAREY, Ohio (WCMH) — While travel restrictions over the past 18-months have created headaches for business travel and vacations, it’s also brought hardship on family members separated by a border.
“There’s bad days at work and you’d like to have that hug at the end of the day,” admits Tom Musgrave, a Carey, Ohio resident.
But for Musgrave, instead of comfort, there’s only agonizing separation.
“I don’t get that. I get a picture of what she does throughout the day, I get a video call,” Musgrave bemoans.
On most days though, it’s the only way Musgrave can talk to, or even see, his soon-to-be 3-year-old daughter.
“Right now, for me to get to Ohio, I would have to pay $2,000 to fly from Toronto to Detroit. Versus, it’s like $40 for me to drive,” says Jaslyn DeClercq, Musgrave’s fiancé.
But for Declercq, the four-hour drive from Tillsonburg, Ontario to Carey, Ohio isn’t an option.
“We’ll get in the car, and she’ll be like, ‘We’re going to dad’s house, we’re going to dad’s house,’ and when we return home, she has a meltdown,” Declercq gripes.
DeClercq gave birth to the couple’s baby daughter in December of 2018. They had recently been engaged, as well.
Musgrave was working two jobs to support his family, while DeClercq was on maternity leave.
Then, in March of 2020, the pandemic shut everything down — including the United States-Canada border.
Foreign families were originally categorized as “tourists,” and deemed non-essential.
Beginning August 9, the Canadian government re-opened their border to the United States, creating exemptions for foreign families. The United States has yet to reciprocate — extending travel restrictions through at least September 21.
Leading to isolation for cross-border-couples.
“Your family is only essential if you can afford to see them. If you’re elite and can afford to pay that flight,” DeClercq criticizes.
“I would really like it if they would sit down and think about how they would feel in my position. Where they have a young child whose learning everything for the first time, and they don’t get to see any of it first-hand. Then try to tell yourself you’re not essential,” adds Musgrave.
Musgrave and DeClercq have only spent 26 days together in the past 18-months.
Their daughter has transitioned from an early walker to a running and jumping toddler during that time.
“It’s hard to see her miss him. She shouldn’t have to miss him,” DeClercq laments.
But the couple is far from alone.
Musgrave and DeClercq are members of a United States-based grassroot campaign called “Let Us Reunite,” which has more than 3,000 members representing just the United States and Canada.
That doesn’t include thousands of other families in other foreign countries as well.
“This is a worldwide issue. This isn’t limited to just Canada and the U.S.,” DeClercq warns.
And it’s why the couple is now helping lead the charge in the calls for change.