EAGLE PASS, Texas — On Sunday, the Department of Homeland Security announced an extension on the COVID-19 ban on all non-essential crossings at land ports of entry. The ban impacts Canadian and Mexican citizens who would otherwise use day visas to shop or engage in other forms of tourism.
The Trump era ban has been in effect since March 2020. The ban was slated to expire on June 21, 2021. A 30-day extension was announced Sunday. The ban is proving to have a crippling effect on border city economies.
On the northern border with Canada, many legal non-immigrants have not visited relatives since the ban was initiated even though vaccination programs are starting to ease restrictions.
On the southern border with Mexico, the same hopes were shared. Many hoped the ban would expire in June due to expanded vaccination plans. Mexico received more than 1.3 million Johnson & Johnson doses from the United States earlier this month. The vaccines are destined for 39 municipalities in Mexico along the border.
The ban has many communities frustrated as it directly impacts their economies. This latest extension pushes the ban well past its one-year anniversary. Border merchants expressed dismay about the allowance of thousands of asylum seekers arriving daily while masked Mexican tourists and shoppers are kept at home.
Ports of entry, which once bustled with daily crossers, are nearly void of traffic today. The local economy has lost more than $3 million in bridge crossing revenues since September 2020, according to city leaders.
A statement released by DHS offers some glimmer of hope:
DHS also notes positive developments in recent weeks and is participating with other U.S. agencies in the White House’s expert working groups with Canada and Mexico to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably.
The next reassessment date is set for July 21.
Randy Clark is a 32-year veteran of the United States Border Patrol. Prior to his retirement, he served as the Division Chief for Law Enforcement Operations, directing operations for nine Border Patrol Stations within the Del Rio, Texas, Sector. Follow him on Twitter @RandyClarkBBTX.