DeConcini port

The pedestrian lanes at the Dennis DeConcini Port of Entry remain fairly empty on Wednesday evening, July 21, the day that the U.S. extended the travel restrictions at its southern border.

Travel restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border will continue for another month, authorities from the United States and Mexico announced in tweets on Wednesday morning.

“To decrease the spread of COVID-19, including the Delta variant, the United States is extending restrictions on non-essential travel at our land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico through August 21,” the Department of Homeland Security wrote.

The latest announcement marks the 17th consecutive month of travel restrictions and comes after public efforts by the Mexican government to vaccinate border residents in the hopes of hastening a border reopening. And while the Mexican government announced previous extensions of the restrictions by stating that Mexico has proposed another month-long continuation to the United States, this time, the Mexican Secretariat of Foreign Relations tweeted: “The United States government has informed us of the decision to extend the partial closure of the border for another month.”

The secretariat added that bilateral discussions on the matter will continue, and Mexico “reiterates that the accelerated pace of vaccination against COVID-19 along the border generates conditions for mutually beneficial advancement.”

In practice, U.S. citizens and permanent residents can continue crossing the border at land ports of entry with the current restrictions in place, as well as people traveling for certain purposes deemed essential. But the large numbers of Mexican citizens who used to cross through the ports on tourist visas are generally barred from entry under the restrictions.

That’s meant economic hardship for border communities like Nogales, which depend heavily on shoppers from Mexico to support local businesses. Earlier this summer, the Nogales City Council approved a resolution and the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors sent a letter to federal officials calling for the travel restrictions to be lifted.

The latest extension came days after Canada announced that it would allow non-essential travelers to enter the country from the United States beginning Aug. 9, if they produce proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.

Mexico has repeatedly stated that it would impose restrictions on travelers entering the country, but at least in Nogales, those promises haven’t led to any concrete controls at the border.

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