The U.S. government will lift pandemic travel limits along the Canadian and Mexican borders for travelers vaccinated against the coronavirus next month, allowing them to enter the United States for non-essential activities, such as tourism and travel. family visits, for the first time since March 2020.
Starting in early November, the Department of Homeland Security will exempt travelers fully vaccinated against COVID-19 from non-essential travel restrictions in effect along the two U.S. land borders, senior Biden administration officials told reporters. during a call Tuesday.
Those who cannot provide proof of vaccination will continue to be prohibited from crossing land borders if their travel is deemed “non-essential”. U.S. citizens, green card holders, and people traveling for medical care have been exempt from non-essential restrictions from their institution.
Beginning in January 2022, the United States will require all travelers – including those on essential trips, such as truck drivers – to present proof of vaccination before entering a land border crossing, officials said. .
“This phased approach will allow sufficient time for essential travelers such as truck drivers and others to get vaccinated, allowing a smooth transition to this new system,” said an administration official.
U.S. Customs and border protection will accept paper or digital proof of vaccination, an official said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to determine which vaccines the United States will recognize, officials added.
Tuesday’s announcement is expected to be welcomed by Mexican and Canadian travelers, as well as leaders of U.S. border communities, who have been urging the Biden administration for months to lift travel limits, hurting local economies that depend on tourism and trade.
“There has been a lot of struggles in the community because of the closure, not just financial hardship but a lot of families that have been separated and a lot of literal emotional hardship,” said Democratic MP Veronica Escobar, who represents the city. border of El in Texas. Paso, told CBS News. “This is much appreciated news.”
Escobar said the United States should also increase the supply of vaccines it sends to Mexico to help border communities like Ciudad Juárez, which borders El Paso, ensure that potential travelers can take advantage of the new travel policy. .
“Our border communities are essentially a community,” Escobar added. “So this is a fantastic and long overdue first step and I know it will be very well received by the community.”
Last month, the Biden administrationthat immigrants and travelers coming to the United States by air will also need to be fully immunized and show proof of a negative COVID-19 test from November.
Administration officials stressed that this week’s announcement will not affect a separate border policy in the era of the pandemic that the United States has used to deport migrants and asylum seekers who do not do not have legal permission to enter the country.
Citing a public health authority known as Title 42, US border officials have deported hundreds of thousands of migrants without allowing them to seek asylum. Much to the dismay of supporters and some Democrats, the Biden administration continued with the expulsions, which were first implemented in March 2020 under former President Donald Trump.
When asked whether lifting non-essential travel restrictions undermines the rationale for continuing the Title 42 deportations, an administration official said that political considerations are different as migrants are typically held in detention facilities. border patrol where social distancing cannot be applied.
“They are not prepared for a situation of a global pandemic,” the official said of the detention facilities for migrants. “The Title 42 restrictions are really meant to protect the migrants themselves, the DHS workforce, and local communities.”
Citing “the current conditions”, the official said “there is a strong public health basis” for pursuing the Title 42 policy.
Fin Gómez contributed to this report.