This past Tuesday, the White House put forth an announcement that stated that a select few border sections between the U.S. and Canada and the U.S. and Mexico will be reopening soon. This is a step that crops up after very lengthy restrictions were set in place.
As reported by Reuters:
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement the administration next month “will begin allowing travelers from Mexico and Canada who are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the United States for non-essential purposes, including to visit friends and family or for tourism, via land and ferry border crossings.”
The new rules are similar but not identical to planned requirements announced last month for international air travelers, U.S. officials said in a call earlier with reporters.
Currently, it does not seem that the border crossings will be open officially to anyone who is not vaccinated.
“Unvaccinated travelers will continue to be banned from crossing the borders with Mexico or Canada, officials said,” as reported by The New York Times. “Those who were never banned from traveling across the land borders, including commercial drivers and students, will also need to show proof of vaccination when crossing starting in January — an effort to provide them time to adjust to the new rules, officials said.”
It has not been stated as to how this new policy will actually be enforced.
The Times made note that multiple officials have stated that people coming into the U.S. at the Mexico or Canada border will be questioned about their immunization status by officials with the Customs and Border Protection before being allowed to make their way into the country. “The officers will have the discretion to send travelers to secondary screenings to have their documents checked, officials said,” stated the Times.
Before this, the U.S. has extended its travel restrictions several times before. The United States has previously announced that land border closures between the U.S. and Mexico and the U.S. and Canada would see an extension even as multiple other countries are starting to open back up.
This past month, the U.S. “extended restrictions at its land borders with Canada and Mexico through Oct. 21 that bar nonessential travel such as tourism by foreigners despite Ottawa’s decision to open its border to vaccinated Americans,” reported Reuters.
As many of the border state lawmakers laud the action as necessary, the Southern border still looks down the barrel of a crisis due to the massive influx of illegal immigrants.
As reported by U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) August 2021 Operational Update, the “number of unique encounters in August 2021 was 156,641.”
As stated by CBP:
In total, there were 208,887 encounters along the Southwest Border, a 2 percent drop compared to July. Of those, 25 percent involved individuals who had at least one prior encounter in the previous 12 months, compared to an average one-year re-encounter rate of 14 percent for Fiscal Years 2014-2019.
Nearly half (49 percent) of encounters were single adults, with 103,129
The report also made note that “a total of 1,002,722 unique individuals have been encountered year-to-date during Fiscal Year 2021, compared to 851,513 during the same time period in Fiscal Year 2019.”
The large number of expulsions during the pandemic has contributed to a larger-than-usual number of migrants making multiple border crossing attempts, which means that total encounters somewhat overstate the number of unique individuals arriving at the border.