DelBene, Murray, Cantwell Call on Homeland Security Secretary to Grant Border Exemption for Point Roberts
Today, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Senators Patty Murray (WA) and Maria Cantwell (WA) sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas calling on him to grant a border exemption for Point Roberts as the community faces unprecedented challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We appreciate and are grateful for the Administration’s science-based approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. But we also appreciate that sound science is based upon evidence. And we firmly believe that the evidence supports a narrow and tailored exception to the Administration’s Canadian border closure and a reopening of the Point Roberts port of entry to Canadian travel,” the lawmakers wrote. “Such an exception is defensible on the basis of Point Roberts’ unique geographic isolation and economic devastation and in no way undermines the Administration’s border policy: no other community the size of Point Roberts is located in an exclave along the Canadian border.”
According to the Point Roberts Chamber of Commerce, approximately 85% of the community’s commercial activity is tied to retail spending by Canadian visitors. Western Washington University’s Border Policy Research Institute (BPRI) also found in a September 2020 survey that Point Roberts-based businesses were forced to reduce their number of full-time equivalent positions by 72% in aggregate and that 83% of surveyed firms had witnessed their monthly revenues decrease by 50% or more. Without revenue from Canadian visitors during the summer, Point Roberts’ businesses will face even greater financial hardship during the winter. The local economy continues to face serious challenges.
“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the residents of Point Roberts have been asked to forego their family, their friends, and in far too many cases, their livelihoods. The current border closure policy is now asking them to give up the very community that they have struggled to sustain. We find that unconscionable,” the lawmakers continued. “We emphatically urge you to act swiftly and to save Point Roberts from further injury.”
Read the full letter here.