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    U.S.-Mexico border expected to close for recreational and tourism trips

    U.S.-Mexico border expected to close for recreational and tourism trips

    [The San Ysidro Port of Entry
    (John Gibbins / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

    U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce Friday the temporary closure of the U.S.-Mexico border to further contain the spread of the coronavirus

    By WENDY FRY
    MARCH 20, 2020 8:46 AM

    The U.S.-Mexico border will be temporarily shut down to tourists and recreational border-crossers in an effort to curb further spread of the growing coronavirus pandemic, Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard announced Friday.

    The U.S. is expected to make an official announcement on the measure soon.


    The border restrictions, which could take effect as soon as Friday, applies to vehicle passengers and pedestrians crossing at legal ports of entry.


    “We’re going to protect the economy activity between the two countries and in the border zone,” said Ebrard.


    Commercial goods arriving via rail and truck are exempt, as are “essential” personnel and those with legal work permits.

    “Everything that has to do with people who work in the United States who have that authorization every day to move from one place to another, will not be affected either,” said Ebrard.


    Ebrard asked people who can postpone their business or work trips from Mexico to the United States to consider delaying their trips.


    The arrangement is similar to the temporary closure of the United States’ border with Canada, with exemptions for trade and essential movement, but with greater exceptions for workers.


    “It is clear that Mexico’s border with the United States is not the same as the United States’ border with Canada,” said Ebrard.

    Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf told reporters at the White House Friday morning that the U.S. was “looking at both our northern and our southern border.”


    “We want to make sure that cargo continues, trade continues, heath care workers continue to be able to traverse that border. But tourism, some recreational activities and other things needs to stop during this crisis,” Wolf said.


    The closure was foreshadowed Thursday evening in tweets by U.S. and Mexico diplomats, who said the negotiations were ongoing and would be discussed in detail Friday.


    “Together, we can reduce public health risks and prioritize essential cross-border commerce and trade,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo posted to Twitter.


    Ebrard said in his own tweet: “I spoke to Secretary Mike Pompeo. I proposed that measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 do not stop economic activity and that the border remains open to trade and work.”


    Also on Thursday, the U.S. Department of State issued a “global level 4 health advisory” that warned all citizens abroad “to arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period.”


    Mexico has relatively few confirmed coronavirus cases, fewer than 150 confirmed cases and one death, compared with the United States some 9,400 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins data as of Thursday.


    Officials in Mexico had been considering closing the border with the U.S. to keep infected foreign nationals out of its country.

    “The possible flow of the coronavirus would come from the north to the south,” Mexican Deputy Health Secretary Hugo Lopez-Gatell said last week. “If it were technically necessary, we would consider mechanisms of restriction or stronger surveillance.”


    In the face of the global pandemic, the border economy is already slowing, but tens of thousands of people continue crossing from Tijuana to San Ysidro and back every day for work, school and family.


    With nearly 1 million people crossing each day, the 1,954-mile U.S.-Mexico land border is considered the busiest in the world, making negotiations over a border closure more complicated.


    Because there has been an almost standing threat of a border shutdown during Trump’s entire presidency, experts have been calculating the potential catastrophic economic fallout of a full border closure with Mexico for the past several years.


    White House advisers, border city leaders and U.S. economists have warned in the past that such a move would interrupt supply chains and boost U.S. consumer prices on everything from TV’s to avocados to autos.


    Mexico is America’s third-largest trading partner in goods with $557.6 billion in two-way trade during 2017, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. Trade in services accounted for another $58 billion.


    But with allowances for cross-border trade to continue to flow, economic consequences would be somewhat minimized.


    U.S. and Mexican officials are also negotiating possible emergency measures that allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to quickly process and return migrants to Mexico who cross illegally, to minimize the number of detainees in U.S. custody.

    Trump said he was preparing to announce such a measure earlier in the week, but Homeland Security officials said such an arrangement would require cooperation from Mexican authorities.


    That now appears to be in jeopardy.


    Ebrard said Friday that Mexico will not accept migrants and asylum seekers from third countries returned to Mexico territory by the Trump administration via the U.S.-Mexico border. He said Mexico will continue to accept Central Americans under the Remain in Mexico procedures.

    https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com...rtial-shutdown
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