Mexican residents react to border reopening for nonessential travel
After more than a year, borders are set to reopen to foreigners.
In Matamoros, more than a year has passed since Alfredo Torres Fortuño has been able to see his family in San Benito.
“It’s been hard not being able to see them,” Torres Fortuño said in Spanish. “We were actually just talking about the amount of time that's passed since.”
Torres Fortuño has a tourist visa to enter the U.S., but he hasn't been able to cross because the border has been closed to nonessential travelers due to the pandemic. Only U.S. citizens and residents have been able to cross.
Tony Payan studies U.S.-Mexico relations at Rice University and says economic losses for all Texas counties along the Mexico border have reached $22 billion.
"That's always been our argument, that people that are fully vaccinated should've been allowed to cross the border by now,” Payan said.
One of the most outspoken promoters of reopening the border has been South Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo).
"Which means this will be a very good Christmas for those shoppers that will be coming in,” Cuellar said.
The Department of Homeland Security says starting early November, fully vaccinated foreigners with proper documentation will be allowed to enter the United States through land or sea ports of entry for non-essential reasons.
U.S. Customs officials will ask about their vaccination status, and at the officer's discretion, travelers will have to show proof they are vaccinated.
U.S. officials say that the opening of the border is only for those looking to enter the border legally. Those who enter the U.S. illegally are still subject to Title 42 and will be expelled from the U.S.