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UW Election Eye 2012

Campaign 2012 through the eyes of UW faculty and students

Topic: border

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May 25, 2012 at 8:43 AM

Drug smuggling, immigration and federal enforcement push border town to the brink

Richard Sinks, spokesman for the Blaine sector of Border Patrol, stands in front of the Peace Arch along the U.S.-Canada border. (Photo by Celina Kareiva / UW Election Eye)

Marijuana legalization and immigration are debates that impact every community in Washington. But for residents of a small city on the Canadian border, these issues hit especially close to home.

LYNDEN, Wash — The border between Washington state and Canada is demarcated by two parallel roads surrounded by long stretches of farmland.

As a boy, Gary Vis can remember darting through this area to a fishing hole where he and his friends used to spend summer afternoons.

“It was that easy to cross into Canada,” recalls the executive director of Lynden’s Chamber of Commerce.

Vis grew up among the raspberry fields and dairy farms of Lynden, WA. A small border city just south of Canada, Lynden was once known for having the most churches per square mile worldwide. Tulips fringe the sidewalks of the downtown square, and storefronts capitalize on the city’s Dutch heritage.

But behind this quaint facade is a city complicated by its proximity to the border.


Comments | More in State | Topics: border, Border Patrol, Canada

April 25, 2012 at 6:30 AM

Border-hopping shoppers cost state millions in lost revenue

Washingtonians who shop in Oregon or make tax-free purchases online might not know it, but they’re actually breaking the law. With a billion dollar budget shortfall, state lawmakers are considering drastic measures to make up this lost revenue.

That tax-free shopping spree in Oregon is actually tax evasion (Illustration by Amber Jackson/UW Election Eye)

SEATTLE — I remember the day my father brought home our flat screen TV. It was about seven years ago, he went on a business day-trip to Portland and came back with a huge flat box and a “guess what I got” smirk on his face. He said he happened to walk into an electronic store earlier that day, found the slick 52-inch flat screen for $800. The best part is, he didn’t have to pay sales tax in Oregon!

A lot of Washingtonians do the same. Drive a couple of hours (or just a few minutes if you live in Vancouver, WA) across the southern border and get the same things you can in Washington, but without up to 10% sales tax you’d pay here.

That’s a pretty good saving, and no harm done, right?

Well it turns out it’s illegal. And it’s costing our budget-crunched state government quite a chunk of change.


Comments | More in State | Topics: border, online shopping, Oregon