Unilateral move by the U.S. government
While there has been no official word, a highly placed source in the Blaine port of entry told local immigration attorney Len Saunders on May 25 that the U.S. intends to unilaterally open the land border without restrictions between the U.S. and Canada on June 22. Another ranking CBP officer also confirmed the news independently. It appears to be common scuttlebutt among regular line officers both in the CBP and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The current border closure order was extended on May 20 until June 21.
The border was closed to non-essential traffic on March 20, 2020. At the same time, the U.S. also suspended biometrics processing at e-SAFE ports of entry for non-essential travel and has extended the suspension each month in coordination with the border closure. Biometric processing requires individuals who are submitting electronic immigration files to go to designated ports of entry for photographs and fingerprints. On Tuesday, May 25, local immigration attorneys were notified that biometric processing had resumed, effective immediately.
Saunders declined to identify his first source publicly but said, “He has been highly reliable in the past and is in a position to know.” Saunders said the second source is equally reliable. There have been inchoate rumors circulating the last few days in government circles regarding upcoming changes to border restrictions but nothing definite.
If accurate, the U.S. move will place significant pressure on Canada to consider relaxing border restrictions at a time when provincial governments are still locking down their residents. Travel from one part of B.C. to another is still prohibited as is inter-provincial movement. Still, with Canadians eager to return to travel to their cabins in the U.S. or to vacation destinations, the Canadian government will be hard-pressed to deal with returning residents who don’t want to undergo 14-day quarantines as currently required. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had recently said the border would not be opened until 75 percent of Canadians had received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Absent a similar move from the Canadian government, the U.S. decision will not affect the ability of Point Roberts residents to access the mainland for non-essential purposes. It will, however, allow Canadians who own cabins in Birch Bay, Point Roberts and other areas to enter the U.S. to access them. As well, once they are here, they will be able to take advantage of Covid-19 vaccinations available through the various service providers.