Efforts continue to reopen US/Mexico border to non-essential travel

Laredo congressman questions disparity over who is allowed into the US

As vaccinations ramp up across the country, the country's leaders are still at odds over opening the border to Mexico in full.

SAN ANTONIO – The news came in a tweet from the office of Mexico’s Foreign Secretary that said the information came from the U.S. government, followed by another tweet indicating the reopening would depend on the number of COVID-19 cases and vaccinations on both sides of the border.

Mexico’s Foreign Secretary sends a tweet regarding the latest efforts to reopen the US-Mexico border for non-essential travel. (KSAT)

However, a spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, who had seen the tweets, said no official word had come yet from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The decision to impose the travel restrictions at the Mexican and Canadian borders was made at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 by DHS and the Centers for Disease Control.

Cuellar’s push to lift those restrictions was joined by the Texas Border Coalition in a letter (read below) to Homeland Security Secretary Alexander Mayorkas, signed by numerous groups, including the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Marina Gonzales, the chamber’s president and CEO, said, many of the “non-essential” travelers who come to San Antonio have had an average economic impact of $19 billion a year, which supports 650,000 jobs.

Cuellar has been questioning the disparity over who is allowed in the U.S, like undocumented immigrants but not legal visa holders.

He also said Mexican nationals who can afford it can fly into the country.

“Why are the Mexicans a health issue, the ones that cross by land, (but) not by plane?” Cuellar said he asked the Department of Homeland Security. “They have no answer. It is very perplexing.”

Gonzales said she agrees with Cuellar.

“We should not just be making sure that those that can afford to fly and visit us are able to, while we close the borders to those that drive and walk,” Gonzales said.

Both Gonzales and Cuellar said there should be a way to reopen the border safely by screening those travelers for COVID-19 at land ports of entry.

If we can do that at airports, why can we not do it just on a case by case basis? We can do that,” Cuellar said.

But up to now, Cuellar said there’s been no response to that idea.

You can read the letter from the Texas Border Coaliton to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas below:

About the Authors:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.