Updated Oct 13, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden lifting land border travel restrictions for fully vaccinated

U.S. President Joe Biden walks and waves on the South Lawn of the White House after arriving on Marine One

Photo: Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration will open up U.S. land borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travel starting in November — but only to those fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Why it matters: Government officials and business leaders have decried the economic impact pandemic travel restrictions have had on border communities. They have called for the U.S. to reopen the borders given high, and rising, vaccinations rates there.

What's happening: Officials will implement land border vaccine requirements in two phases, an administration official told reporters on a Tuesday evening call.

  • Early next month, non-essential travelers from Mexico and Canada who provide proof of full vaccination will be allowed into the U.S. at land ports of entry. Unvaccinated people will not be allowed into the U.S. for non-essential reasons like tourism and visiting friends and family.
  • Air travel restrictions will also be lifted in early November, as was announced last month.
  • In early January, everyone crossing U.S. land borders will be required to be fully vaccinated — whether coming for essential or non-essential reasons.

What they're saying: "This is long overdue," Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told Axios Tuesday. She added that the delay in the U.S. decision to fully reopen the border has had devastating impacts.

  • "I'm really concerned that some of these businesses will never reopen and I think border communities, suffered disproportionately," Escobar said.
  • How the protocols are implemented will be critical, Escobar said. "I want to make sure it doesn't create bottlenecks at our ports," she added.

What to watch: Despite easing some coronavirus-related travel restrictions, the Biden administration continues to use a Trump-era policy tied to the pandemic that has allowed to quickly turn back hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers to Mexico.

  • Escobar said she believes Title 42 "should have been lifted a long time ago. I don't think Title 42 protects the health, safety and welfare of migrants or agents," she said.
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