By Sandra G. Leon
President Donald Trump instituted a limited reduction of non-essential traffic across the US-Mexico border starting on Saturday but it does not affect US citizens or lawful US residents.
Non-US citizens with proper passports and visas are still allowed to cross into the US for employment, business, school, medical treatment, visiting family, and governmental work.
The official order authorized by Acting-Secretary of Homeland Security Chad F. Wolf states that “I have determined that land ports of entry along the U.S.- Mexican border will suspend normal operations and process for entry only those travelers engaged in “essential travel”, but then defines the only “non-essential” travel as “sightseeing, recreation, gambling, or attending cultural events.”
Over the past weekend, traffic in the Northbound lanes was lighter than usual but total crossings still numbered over 100,000 individuals, down about 70% from an average weekend, according to a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesperson.
Rosa Sanchez, 34, crosses the border nearly every day for work and did not have any problems crossing on Monday. Sanchez said she noticed the traffic was lighter than her usual 45-minute wait time and she was questioned by a CBP officer about the purpose of her crossing.
“I told the officer that I work at a local grocery store and we’re really busy,” Sanchez said. “He asked me if I’ve been sick but that was all, and I crossed pretty much as usual,” she added.
President Trump initiated similar border crossing restrictions along the Canadian border as well, and that policy also allows all US citizens to cross freely between the countries.
Some San Diegans questioned the impact that the border restrictions have in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus if no one is being tested at the border and only non-US citizens are being questioned.
“It doesn’t make anyone any safer here if all this means is that some Mexicans can’t cross but any American can be carrying the virus and be waived though,” said Marcos Rojas, a US-born college student that lives in Mexico with his parents. “It’s made to look tough but it doesn’t do anything to keep America safe. It seems like just another political move by Trump to make it harder from Mexicans to enter the US for any reason and using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse,” Rojas added.