Officials plead Biden for help with Point Roberts

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In back to back appeals, both U.S. senator Patty Murray and governor Jay Inslee have asked President Joe Biden to personally intervene and allow the border in Point Roberts to be open to vaccinated Canadians.

First up was Patty Murray who spoke on the senate floor September 23 and called on the Biden administration to open up the Point Roberts border to non-essential traffic.

“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 said.

She continued, “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 reopening 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,” Murray continued. “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.”

Other than the senate stenographer, it’s not clear who else heard Murray’s five-minute appeal. Other than a few passersby, the portion of the senate visible in the background was bereft of senators or other listeners.

Inslee’s letter to the President followed the next day. He wrote: “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.”

Inslee goes on to ask President Biden to work with his staff and Cabinet and consider the following options to improve the situation and address the needs of border communities in Washington:

• 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 reopen the U.S.-Canada land border, with a general reopening of the border remaining our ultimate goal.

Inslee then asked the President to provide clarity behind the administration’s decision-making process: “Additionally, I reiterate the request made by myself and the governors of Alaska, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, and Vermont to Secretaries Blinken and Mayorkas for additional information on the long-term strategy regarding these restrictions. It would be highly valuable to understand what specific metrics are being evaluated in determining the status of the land border, what obstacles must be resolved to make possible intermediate steps to provide relief, and how the state and federal governments may work together to resolve those obstacles. In the continued absence of this information, states and communities will experience deepening and permanent hardship with little to no insight on how to improve their circumstances.”

But just like the proverbial tree falling in the forest, if no one was there to hear it fall, did it really fall? Will the President actually hear the sound of their voices? Will Point Roberts ever experience release from an economy-crushing border closure?

To view Murray’s speech, visit bit.ly/3ibdUOP. Inslee’s letter is available at bit.ly/3zKUTsh.

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