U.S.-Mexico land border restrictions to stay in place through Aug. 21
Restrictions on nonessential travel across the U.S.-Mexico land border will stay in place through at least Aug. 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday.
The restrictions on nonessential travel, which include individuals traveling on tourist visas, were first imposed in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been extended on a monthly basis ever since.
“To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel,” the agency said via Twitter.
“DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.”
In a prepublished notice on the U.S. Federal Register, DHS said that “given the sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus, coupled with risks posed by new variants, returning to previous levels of travel between the two nations places the personnel staffing land ports of entry between the United States and Mexico, as well as the individuals traveling through these ports of entry, at increased risk of exposure to the virus associated with COVID-19.”
Crossings remain open for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, people with work visas and those traveling for educational or medical purposes among other reasons deemed essential.
Recreational and tourist travel are considered nonessential.
The announcement comes as Mexico conducts a mass vaccination plan on its northern border to accelerate the process of fully reopening the border.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Wednesday that officials expect to finish the vaccinations in the border municipalities by early August.
Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said via Twitter that “Mexico will continue the bilateral dialogue while reiterating that the accelerated rate of vaccination against COVID-19 at the border creates conditions for mutual benefit.”
U.S. government extended restrictions again on crossings
Local leaders in San Diego County have increased pressure on federal authorities to issue specific benchmarks for the reopening of nonessential travel at U.S. land ports of entry.
Earlier this month, the mayors of San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Coronado and Imperial Beach, as well as San Diego County Supervisor Nora Vargas, cosigned a letter sent to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressing their concerns.
“Our region is suffering from a weekly economic hit to our retail sector of at least $7.5 million due to the continuation of non-essential travel restrictions, and the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce has reported that over 200 small businesses in their community have closed since the restrictions have been in place,” reads the letter sent on July 2.
Officials added that given the ongoing vaccination efforts on both sides of the border, “it is time to lift these restrictions and allow for the free flow of daily travelers.”
In San Diego County, about 68% of residents age 12 and over are fully vaccinated against COVID. In Baja California, about 72% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated, according to the latest data.
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