Two Democratic House lawmakers are urging the Canadian government to ensure border officials allow residents of two communities geographically isolated from the rest of the U.S. to transit through Canada to access the rest of the country.
Residents of Point Roberts, Wash., and Minnesota's Northwest Angle have encountered problems trying to cross the Canadian border to enter the Lower 48, Reps. Suzan DelBene of Washington and Collin Peterson of Minnesota wrote in a letter Tuesday to Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. That's despite guidance published on the Canada Border Services Agency's website stating that travelers from the U.S. must prove to border officials they're entering Canada for an "essential" reason, "or are only transiting, or are an immediate family member."
That exception for "transiting" travelers appears to have been removed from the government's website , which was last updated on Aug. 7. CBSA did not immediately comment.
The issue: The letter builds on a campaign by Washington state lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee to pressure Ottawa into being more forthcoming about its calls on border crossings. The restrictions have been in place since March and extended for 30-day increments ever since, with few new exceptions made to the "essential" travel definition.
Point Roberts and the Northwest Angle are exclaves geographically separated from the rest of the U.S., meaning residents must pass through two border checkpoints to get back into the States. With that geographic isolation often comes long distances for groceries and medical appointments, and some have reported trying to cross with family members only to have CBSA officers turn travel companions away.
Americans living in Minnesota's Northwest Angle can only travel to the rest of the U.S. by open water if denied entry into Canada at the land border, the lawmakers wrote, creating "a logistical and safety hazard that has hurt businesses and prevented Americans from visiting family or homes they own."
DelBene and Peterson reiterated an argument those residents have made: that CBSA officers can easily verify their unique status as exclave residents.
"Individuals who live in or are traveling to Point Roberts and the NW Angle could be identified with drivers’ licenses, leases, or ownership documents," they wrote. "There are many options that would allow Americans to access these isolated geographic points without any risk of exposure to Canadian residents."
What's next: The current border restrictions expire Sept. 22 and are widely expected to be extended again in some capacity.