Southern Border Reopens After 20 Months

Traffic+on+hold+at+the+San+Ysidro+Point+of+Entry+as+drivers+wait+for+authorization+to+cross.+%28Image+courtesy+of+Alejandro+Tamayo%2F+The+San+Diego+Union-Tribune%29

Traffic on hold at the San Ysidro Point of Entry as drivers wait for authorization to cross. (Image courtesy of Alejandro Tamayo/ The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Luis Ortiz

In March 2020, amid the surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, the Trump administration officially closed the border to all visa holders and asylum seekers. Only U.S. citizens and residents were allowed to enter the country during the pandemic. 

During the last year and a half, both Trump and Biden administrations said they were planning to open it soon but kept pushing back dates indefinitely. 

It was announced that Monday, November 8 was the official date that the border was going to reopen again to nonessential travel.

Many businesses on both the U.S. and Mexico sides were seriously affected by this long closure. Border towns are relieved that the economy will get back on track because they are in need of travelers that would help sustain it.

“We know just in downtown El Paso there was something like 45 retail businesses closed,” says Joe Barela, the CEO of the Borderplex Alliance in El Paso, Texas. “It had a really bad impact on businesses.”

Not only were businesses affected, the asylum system has been suspended as well. At the start of the pandemic, the Trump administration invoked a 1944 public health law called Title 42 that allows the U.S. border patrol to expel almost all non-Mexican asylum seekers back to Mexico or their country of origin. The Biden administration continues to uphold it under the name of public health of the country. To date, it is unknown when the use of Title 42 will come to an end.