Biden admin extends border restrictions, prolonging economic suffering of small businesses, border communities

The Biden administration announced Wednesday it was extending the ban on nonessential travel, such as tourism, at the land borders with Canada and Mexico for another month, prolonging the economic turmoil U.S. border businesses have faced since the pandemic began over a year ago.

Hours before the closures were set to expire Wednesday night, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Twitter that the restrictions would be extended through Aug. 21.

“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, while ensuring the continued flow of essential trade and travel,” the department tweeted.

“DHS is in constant contact with Canadian and Mexican counterparts to identify the conditions under which restrictions may be eased safely and sustainably,” it added.

TEXAS DEM DOUBLES DOWN ON STATEMENT THAT ECONOMY IS ‘WIDE OPEN’ AS BIDEN EXTENDS BORDER RESTRICTIONS

The latest extension, which has been ongoing since March 2020, came two days after Canada announced it would allow nonessential travel by fully vaccinated U.S. visitors starting Aug. 9.

Asked why the U.S. extended the ban in light of Canada’s announcement, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday, “We rely on the guidance of our health and medical experts, not on the actions of other countries.”
 
“We created these working groups so that we could have an open line of communication about what the criteria looked like, what measures needed to be met” to ease travel restrictions, she told reporters. 

“Those are ongoing, and, of course, we are continuing to be briefed internally as well,” she said.

The current travel ban does not apply to trade or U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents returning to the United States.

Meanwhile, small businesses on the southern border continue to suffer. The Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston, Texas, estimates Texas border counties will lose $4.9 billion in total GDP from Mexican tourists and shoppers being unable to cross the border, equating to 6.1% of total GDP.

The California tourism board, Visit California, estimated that travelers from Mexico spent 75.8% less in 2020 than in 2019, with revenue from Mexican travelers in the state dropping from $4.256 billion to $1.028 billion.

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New York Rep. John Katko, the Republican ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, blasted the extension as “hypocritical.”

“As Canada’s vaccination rate surpassed that of the U.S. this week, President Biden announced an extension of restrictions at the northern border as a ‘public health precaution,'” Katko said in a statement. 

“Meanwhile, the Administration has discussed plans to end Title 42 authority at the southern border, and our nation has seen an unprecedented number of illegal encounters as a result of President Biden’s open border policies. These decisions are clearly not founded in any concern for public health as COVID cases skyrocketed 900% in the Rio Grande Sector and CBP has clocked 1.1 million illegal encounters this year. This inequity is nonsensical and continues to hamper local economies and even the travel of vaccinated Americans.”

FOX Business’ Houston Keene contributed to this report. 

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