Politicians continue to turn up the heat on Washington when it comes to making a border re-opening exemption for Point Roberts.
On Thursday, from the senate floor, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) spoke up for the exclave’s dying business community that hasn’t seen a Canadian customer in more than 18 months.
U.S. Homeland Security announced earlier this week that all land borders will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Oct. 21. By then it will be 10 weeks, Point Roberts residents will have been allowed into Canada for everything from appointments to shopping. As long as they declare on the ArriveCAN app they are staying in the South Delta area, they can cross into Canada without proof of a negative COVID-19 test or being fully vaccinated.
“I greatly appreciate the administration’s science-based approach to the COVID-19 pandemic — we have to follow the science and the evidence — and I’m proud we have taken COVID-19 extremely seriously from the very start in Washington state,” said Murray. “But I firmly believe that the evidence supports, at least, a narrow and tailored exception to the Canadian border closure to allow for a re-opening of the Point Roberts port of entry to Canadian travel. I have yet to be presented with a compelling reason why a border exemption for Point Roberts has not yet been provided.
“I’ve spoken directly with DHS Secretary Mayorkas about this. With Jeff Zients, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator and other top officials at the State Department and White House as well, but no one can explain to me what evidence is being used to support these continued border restrictions, so I’m here on the Senate floor today to make sure that President Biden and his administration understand me. At the very least, we need an emergency exemption from these restrictions for the Point Roberts community—and that exemption is long overdue.”
Murray’s remarks comes days after U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, stated her disappointment in the continued landing border closure and the economic devastation it is creating.
“Another month brings another border extension. That means more unpredictability, suffering, and frustration for our border communities,” she said. “It does not follow the science to say Canadians can fly from Vancouver to Seattle but cannot drive from British Columbia to Whatcom County. It is a disservice to families and businesses along the border that vaccinated Americans can travel north to Canada but we have not reciprocated.”
Murray and DelBene’s efforts are certainly appreciated by Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce president Brian Calder who, at this point, is dumbfounded at why everything from letters to re-opening proposals continue to be ignored.
“I didn’t realize there was another level below bottom, but it’s found us!” said Calder. “The devastation the border restrictions have caused to our community over the past 18 months is more than we can bear. We have lost residents, businesses and workers. It’s just not financially viable for a business to last three years with their books in the red. We are officially in crisis mode.”
Point Roberts did receive some good news earlier this month when Whatcom County Council approved allocating as much as $250,000 in emergency funding from the American Rescue Act. It was back in August when the International Marketplace, the community’s lone grocery store, received emergency state funding when it was on the verge of closing.