The U.S. is restricting travel along the border with Mexico in an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the Trump administration announced Friday.
President Trump announced at a White House press briefing that nonessential travel would no longer be permitted between the U.S. and Mexico. The restrictions are the same ones applied to the U.S.-Canada border, and trade and commerce will be allowed to continue.
“We’re treating the borders equally, the northern border and the southern border,” Trump said. “They’re both being treated equally. A lot of people say they’re not treated equally; well, they are.”
The president said the move was intended to “reduce the incentive for a mass global migration that would badly deplete” health care resources in the country. Trump has spent the last three years railing against immigrants pouring in from Mexico and pushing for a wall along the border.
With Friday’s announcement, the U.S. has shuttered its borders to Europe, China, Iran, South Korea, Mexico and Canada. It came as domestic coronavirus cases exceeded 14,000, many of them reported in New York.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the restrictions on Mexico and Canada would go into effect Friday night at midnight and be reviewed after 30 days. Pompeo said the restrictions came after consultations with each of the other countries.
“The United States and Mexico have agreed to restrict nonessential travel across our shared border,” Pompeo said at the briefing following Trump’s remarks. “Both our countries know the importance of working together to limit the spread of the virus, to ensure the commerce that supports our economy continues to keep flowing.”
The State Department on Thursday also advised all Americans to avoid international travel or arrange for prompt return to the U.S. unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an extended period of time. Pompeo warned Friday that individuals who do decide to travel abroad could see their plans significantly disrupted.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and acting Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Commissioner Mark Morgan also attended Friday's briefing.
Wolf emphasized that the restrictions would not apply to lawful trade and commerce. He also said that exceptions would be made for essential travel including those traveling for medical purposes, emergency responders and those engaged in lawful trade activities.
“Essential commercial activities will not be impacted. We will continue to maintain a strong and secure economic supply chain across our borders,” Wolf said.