United States reopens land borders with Mexico to vaccinated travelers
EL PASO – After 19 months of closure, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday reopened its ports of entry to vaccinated travelers from Mexico, a long-awaited event for entrepreneurs who depend on tourists and Mexican nationals who don’t. had not been able to visit family on the American side for over a year and a half.
In March 2020, in order to combat the spread of COVID-19, the Trump administration closed land borders to everyone except U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents, and any other travelers deemed essential, such as health workers or students. Mexican nationals on tourist visas were not allowed to enter the United States
From Brownsville to El Paso, crosswalks at entry points have declined significantly, according to statistics from the US Department of Transportation.
Some 24-hour entry ports reopened at midnight. Others were to reopen at previously scheduled opening hours.
To enter the United States, Mexican nationals on a visa will need to prove that they have received a COVID-19 vaccine approved by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Evidence, such as a vaccination card, can be in English or Spanish and in physical or electronic form. Travelers must have proof of vaccination with them at all times.
The requirements do not apply to children 17 or younger, U.S. customs and border protection officials said.
Starting in January, non-U.S. Citizens and non-permanent residents traveling for essential purposes will also need to begin showing proof of vaccination at land crossings to enter the United States.
El Paso, which operates some of the busiest entry points in the United States, reported 3 million crosswalks in 2020, a 60% drop from the previous year. In Brownsville, crosswalks fell 53% from 2019 to 2020. Both cities saw vehicle crossings drop by about half over the same period.
Border patrol officials have warned that wait times to enter the United States will likely be long on reopening day and have asked potential travelers to prepare their documents to facilitate the process.
“We anticipate more travelers, especially as the holiday season approaches. Everyone should expect longer wait times. This is the reality of what we are going to see, ”Ray Provencio, acting director of the port of El Paso, said in a statement on Friday. “By being prepared to the point where each traveler can save seconds in the process, this will translate into real-time savings for all travelers at our local border crossings. “
This story will be updated; come back for more.
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