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Washington State governor makes historic visit to Point Roberts on border closure concerns

Jay Inslee became just the third governor to ever visit the exclave to address his concerns on the extended border closure
Inslee international marketplace
International Marketplace owner Ali Hayton (left) takes Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and US Congresswoman Suzan DelBene on a tour of her store during a visit to Point Roberts on Friday.

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee flew to Point Roberts on Friday to hear from residents about the impacts of the prolonged closure of the Canadian border in response to the COVID pandemic.

Inslee became just the third governor to ever visit Point Roberts, after Govs. Albert Rosellini and Gary Locke visited during their time in office, respectively.

The governor publicly reiterated his call for the U.S. and Canadian governments to find a way to reopen the border to help communities like Point Roberts, which is only accessible by land via border crossings with Canada.

Inslee sent a letter earlier this month to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas urging an immediate full or partial reopening of the U.S.-Canadian border to provide relief for individuals and communities impacted by the prolonged closure.

"We're working hard to find more ways to support Point Roberts, building on the strategic reserve funding I announced last month," Inslee said.

Funds of $100,000 from the state Strategic Reserve Fund will help provide food security for the community and avoid a food crisis in this remote area of the state. The strategic reserve funds went to Point Roberts' International Marketplace, the only grocery store in Point Roberts.

The Marketplace recently announced that due to losses associated with continued closures of the U.S.-Canada border, they might be forced to close on July 15. With these funds, the grocery store will be able to retain its 10 employees and possibly add three more jobs when the border re-opens and business picks up.

These state funds complement federal funding support provided through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other COVID-19 relief legislation, which were secured thanks to the efforts of U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene.

Inslee was joined by DelBene, state Reps. Alicia Rule and Sharon Shewmake, and Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu on the visit to Point Roberts.

“I strongly support the re-opening of the U.S.-Canada border to support our border communities in Washington and British Columbia. The Point Roberts community has been isolated due to the closure throughout the pandemic, and while all Washington communities have been impacted, the situation up there is unique,” Inslee said.

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