Increased illegal crossings cause tighter restrictions at Peace Arch Historical State Park


The U.S. Border Patrol has new restrictions for people from Canada visiting the Washington side of Peace Arch Park in response to an increase in people attempting to cross the border illegally at the park.

Jason Givens, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, wrote in an email to The Northern Light that U.S. Border Patrol, which is part of CBP, had seen a “dramatic increase” in illegal border crossings in and around Peace Arch Historical Park since 2022.

CBP was unable to provide data on the number of people who attempted to illegally cross the border through the park. However, CBP data shows a significant increase in illegal border crossings along the northern land border in the Blaine sector.

In 2021, U.S. Border Patrol had 112 encounters in the Blaine sector area. That number grew to 407 in 2022, 1,489 in 2023 and is at its highest with 1,732 encounters so far in 2024, according to CBP data.

“The U.S. Border Patrol is dedicated to preserving the legacy and traditions of Peace Arch Park while also preventing transnational criminal organizations from exploiting the park to gain illegal entry into the United States,” Givens wrote.

The park is located on both sides of the U.S./Canada border, split as Peace Arch Historical State Park in Washington and Peace Arch Provincial Park in B.C. The park previously allowed people from the U.S. and Canada to meet anywhere within it without going through customs, making it a rare and popular location for loved ones to meet when the border was closed to non-essential travel during the pandemic.

Canadians were previously able to enter the U.S. side of the park in Washington from 0 Avenue in B.C., but Givens wrote that Border Patrol agents are telling people attempting to enter the park along 0 Avenue to enter from the Canadian park. Once on the Washington side of the park, people from Canada are only allowed to roam as far east as the indoor kitchen and bathroom area. 

Border Patrol agents have been patrolling Peace Arch Historical State Park and asking park guests from which side they arrived. Signs now line the park informing those who wish to enter the U.S. proper they need to be inspected by customs officers at the Peace Arch port of entry.

Christina Winkler, who runs the snack and gift shack at the park, said she’s observed attempted illegal crossings and increased Border Patrol activity in the park.

“It is evident to me personally and anyone on both sides of the border who frequents or lives near the park,” Winkler said.

Winkler, who also runs the International Peace Arch Park Association, said as a long-time advocate of the park, she has contemplated the long-term implications, if any, of the situation.

“Let’s all look forward to welcoming the traveling public to Blaine and the international park for the 2024 tourist season,” she said.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here