U.S. Extends Restrictions on Borders With Canada, Mexico
The U.S. has extended its border restrictions with Canada and Mexico for another month as the Delta variant surges across the U.S. and the vaccination rate lags behind the Biden administration’s goal.
U.S. border crossings with Canada and Mexico will remain closed to nonessential travel through Aug. 21, according to documents published by the Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday.
The U.S. has renewed these restrictions monthly since March 2020 in conjunction with the Canadian and Mexican governments. But July’s extension marks the first time the governments weren’t in lockstep.
On Monday, Canada said it would allow fully vaccinated Americans to visit Canada beginning on Aug. 9, with plans to welcome other nationalities beginning in September.
The country made the unilateral decision after its vaccination rate surpassed that of the U.S. Nearly 52% of Canadians are fully vaccinated, according to the University of Oxford’s Our World in Data. In the U.S., 48% of the population is fully vaccinated.
U.S. officials declined to take the same step as Canada, telling their Canadian counterparts that they prefer to improve the U.S. vaccination rate first, according to officials in both countries.
U.S. officials have another reason to keep borders shut: The order is connected to an immigration measure known as Title 42, which allows border patrol agents to rapidly turn back most migrants they encounter who have crossed the border illegally. Lifting one set of restrictions while leaving the other in place could make the immigration restrictions tougher to defend, according to one official.
Business groups, border towns and Americans with homes or relatives living across the border in Canada or Mexico have been pressing the government to relax its restrictions for months, saying they are hurting the economies of American cities dependent on sales revenue from across the border and keeping families separated.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said Wednesday that the U.S. decision to keep the land border closed to Canadians “flies in the face of both science and the most recent public health data.” It said fully vaccinated Canadians should not pose a threat to public health, citing Canada’s high vaccination rate and low Covid-19 caseload.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier this week that Canada and the U.S. have maintained cross-border trade throughout the pandemic and would continue to work together on border issues. “Every country gets to set its own rules about how it will keep its citizens safe,” Mr. Trudeau said.
Mexican and Canadian travelers are permitted to fly to the U.S. with proof of a negative Covid-19 test, a requirement that applies to all international travelers, including Americans, arriving by plane. Government officials had been working on a plan to allow travelers to enter from land ports with a negative Covid-19 test, according to people familiar with the matter, but that plan was never implemented.
The U.S. also continues to have travel bans on Europe, the U.K., India, China, South Africa and Brazil.