ICYMI: Inslee letter to President Biden urges action for Point Roberts and border communities

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In case you missed it: Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter last week to President Joe Biden reiterating his call for a targeted exception to border restrictions for the Point Roberts community and a partial reopening of the U.S.-Canada land border.

The letter comes after 18 months of border closures and repeated appeals from the governor to the Biden administration to provide relief to impacted Washington communities and businesses. Inslee also requested clarity from the administration on circumstances and conditions required for entry into the United States at the U.S.-Canadian border.

The letter reads, in part:

"These ongoing restrictions are creating real and lasting harms for the citizens of Point Roberts, Washington, which is uniquely situated given its location below the 49th Parallel, as well as communities all along the border whose economies rely on travel and tourism by Canadian travelers. As I have communicated in letters to Secretaries Antony Blinken and Alejandro Mayorkas this summer, the harms and economic depredations experienced by these communities grow more dire with each month – and each monthly extension of these blanket restrictions. As the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce wrote on Wednesday, September 22, 2021, that community alone is in a “desperate” situation as 85 percent of their economy depends on commercial activity by Canadians that is now impossible.

"Washington State is doing its part to help these communities weather this situation. In June, I authorized $100,000 from the state’s Strategic Reserve Funds to prevent the closure of the only grocery store in Point Roberts due to absence of summer travel. This week, the Washington State Department of Commerce announced a new “Border Business Relief Program” to provide grants of up to $50,000 to certain businesses impacted by the ongoing closure. The efforts of Washington State’s federal Congressional delegation to identify American Rescue Plan Act resources have also been extremely welcome. Yet these measures are only a temporary solution that cannot make whole the communities that are experiencing deepening harms under restrictions that have failed to adapt to events.

"To address the needs of these communities in Washington State, I ask that you work with your staff and Cabinet to swiftly consider the following options to improve this situation:

  • A targeted exception for the Point Roberts community that would allow fully-vaccinated Canadians to enter Point Roberts, just as fully-vaccinated Americans may travel to Canada by land.
  • Identifying options to at least partially re-open the U.S.-Canada land border, with a general reopening of the border remaining our ultimate goal.

Read the full letter here.


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