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U.S. lawmakers urge Canadian gov't to ease border restrictions for Point Roberts

FILE - Point Roberts is seen here from the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol in the summer of 2019. (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

U.S. lawmakers are trying to turn up the heat on the Canadian government to ease border restrictions for Point Roberts

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene and a colleague have signed a letter sent to Canadian public safety minister

The letter says the guidance given to border agents has been inconsistently interpreted

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (NEWS 1130) — U.S. lawmakers are trying to turn up the heat on the Canadian government to ease COVID-19 border restrictions for Point Roberts residents.

Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, who represents the area, and a colleague have signed a letter sent to Canadian Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, asking for special border exemptions for the roughly 1,300 residents of Point Roberts — a peninsula off Delta, in Washington state.

The letter says the guidance given to border agents has been inconsistently interpreted, and some people trying to travel to the U.S. mainland for groceries, doctors’ appointments, or family visits have been turned away.

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They are pushing for special exemptions or greater transparency when it comes to changes in border policy or extensions to the border shutdown.

The U.S.-Canada border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least Sept. 21.

There is a free ferry connecting Point Roberts to the rest of Washington state, but it only runs once a week.

The Port of Bellingham and Whatcom Transportation Authority are providing a free, short-term, passenger-only transportation service from Point Roberts to Blaine every Tuesday.

Point Roberts residents have been seeking a special exemption to cross into Canada by land and go back through the Peace Arch border crossing into Washington.

Four members of U.S. Congress previously wrote to the U.S. Ambassador to Canada, Richard Mills, asking him to work with the federal government to advocate for a “phased approach” to lifting border restrictions, and to collaborate with Ottawa to “address the unique concerns of Point Roberts.”