How has coronavirus changed the US-Mexico border situation?

 

How has coronavirus changed the US-Mexico border situation?The novel coronavirus has upended traditional ways of life and brought the global economy to a near-standstill.

The U.S.-Mexico border, through which some $1.4 billion worth of goods crosses daily, has only been partially affected, given its importance in both country’s economies.

Immigration, however, is another matter. Last month, the Trump administration halted nonessential travel and moved to turn back any immigrants trying to seek asylum in the U.S. The federal government has stopped receiving applications and suspended immigration hearings for the duration of the crisis.

“The United States and Mexico have agreed to restrict nonessential travel across our shared border,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a White House press briefing with other top officials.

On Tuesday, the Trump administration sent more than 500 troops to the southern border, as well.

The restrictions, however, have left enough leeway for commercial goods to still be transported into the U.S. Mexicans with work permits have also been exempted.

Traffic has slowed sharply enough to affect either side of the border’s economy. In Tijuana, the sales manager of a small industrial firm told The Economist that his business will “have to close.”

Mexico has been criticized for lagging behind other nations in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only on Monday did the government extend a ban on nonessential government work to other business sectors.

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Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has likewise been criticized for his nonchalant attitude toward the pandemic. In recent weeks he has continued to travel the country, hug his supporters and encouraged families to visit restaurants because it “strengthens the economy.”

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