Since initial closures were announced in late March, the ongoing global health crisis has forced the U.S., Canada and Mexico to extend an agreement restricting nonessential travel between their land borders into the month of September.
The restrictions were originally imposed for 30 days, but have been been extended each month since March.
Prior to last week’s announcement, the travel restrictions were set to expire Aug. 21, The Associated Press reported.
“We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19,” Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf tweeted Friday. “Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through September 21.”
We continue to work with our Canadian and Mexican partners to slow the spread of #COVID19. Accordingly, we have agreed to extend the limitation of non-essential travel at our shared land ports of entry through September 21.
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) August 14, 2020
Canada receives much of its food supply from the U.S., and Mexico is America’s “3rd largest goods trading partner with $611.5 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2018,” according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative.
“According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of Goods and Services to Mexico supported an estimated 1.2 million jobs in 2015,” the USTR added, citing the latest data available.
Wolf indicated that to keep the economy moving, the preservation of supply chains and essential economic activity at the border takes precedence over nonessential travel.
“We want to make sure that cargo continues, trade continues, health care workers continue to be able to traverse that border,” he told reporters, according to Bloomberg.
“But tourism, some recreational activities and other things needs to stop during this crisis.”
Essential travelers such as airline crews, truck drivers and health care professionals are still permitted to cross the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico land borders, Fox News reported.
But those who refuse to comply with COVID-19 restrictions at the U.S.-Canada border, particularly Americans trying to get to Alaska via Canada, could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, and even time behind bars, according to CNN.
Additionally, the three countries have agreed to immediately turn back anyone attempting to cross their land borders illegally, according to the AP, as U.S. officials argue that unchecked travel poses a potential health risk.
During Trump’s visit this week to Yuma, Arizona, he accepted the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council, a union representing Border Patrol agents.
— Team Trump (Text TRUMP to 88022) (@TeamTrump) August 18, 2020
“Under the Trump administration, if you cross our border illegally, you are quickly apprehended and swiftly returned back home,” Trump said.
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