After closing the U.S.-Canada border to all non-essential travel, Donald Trump announced that the southern border of the United States will similarly be limited in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. As Business Insider reports, the countries reached an agreement that halts all travel between the two except for trade and commerce.
“As we did with Canada, we’re also working with Mexico to implement new rules at our ports of entry to suspend nonessential travel,” the president said during his daily coronavirus press conference. “These new rules and procedures will not impede lawful trade and commerce.”
On Wednesday, the administration announced that it was closing the Canadian border, effective on Friday, to all non-essential travel. Essential travel is defined as medical-related travel, educational travel, trade, and emergency or public needs-related travel. Vacation travel has been banned entirely between both the U.S. and Canada and the U.S. and Mexico.
All Americans are advised not to travel internationally during the pandemic, and on Thursday, the administration advised all Americans abroad to either return to the U.S. or be prepared to stay in place for the immediate future.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration said that it planned to turn away anyone seeking asylum or anyone else attempting to cross the border illegally because the risk of spreading the virus among detention facilities at the southern border was too great.
Officials argue that if the virus were to catch hold in the immigrant population being held at the border, it could spread rapidly and eventually weaken the United State’s defenses. Trump has also argued in the past that the American infrastructure system is already taxed, so new immigrants shouldn’t be allowed into the country.
As The New York Times reported, green card holders and foreigners with appropriate documentation could still cross.
“Border Patrol agents would immediately return to Mexico anyone who tries to cross the southern border between the legal ports of entry. Under the policy, asylum seekers would not be held for any length of time in an American facility nor would they be given due process. Once caught, they would be driven to the nearest port of entry and returned to Mexico without further detention,” the Times reported.
Officials state that the new policies will remain in place as long as the country is battling the coronavirus pandemic.
Mexico reported 118 cases of the virus on Friday, while the U.S. has over 14,000.