The United States will allow fully vaccinated legal travelers to enter the country through land borders in Canada and Mexico, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to announce Wednesday.
Beginning early next month, nonessential travelers, such as those entering for tourism or to visit family members, will be required to show proof of Covid vaccination to Customs and Border Protection officers when they cross land borders. A similar, previously announced policy will also take effect at the same time for air travelers entering the U.S.
Around the start of the new year, essential travelers, such as truck drivers crossing U.S. land borders, will also be required to be fully vaccinated. The officials said the delay will allow essential workers time to get vaccinated without disrupting trade.
Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, only “essential travel” has been allowed across the Canadian and Mexican borders, keeping many family members and loved ones separated. Essential travel, however, has been allowed regardless of vaccination status.
“We understand how valuable the cross-border travel from Canada and Mexico is to the economic activity in border communities and to our broader economy. We also know how meaningful the ability to travel is to maintaining the personal ties to people living on either side of the northern and southern U.S. borders who are often effectively members of one community,” one of the officials said.
The Department of Homeland Security is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what documentation will be required to prove vaccination status, and it has yet to set the start dates for the November and January policies.
The new policy will apply only to legal travel, not to undocumented immigrants, such as the nearly 30,000 Haitians who arrived at the U.S.-Texas border last month. Undocumented immigrants will still be subject to a public health law known as Title 42, which allows DHS to expel all migrants except children who arrive unaccompanied during certain public health emergencies, regardless of whether they plan to claim asylum.
The officials said rising vaccination numbers in Mexico and Canada led them to revise the policy.