Editor’s Note: The news story below by Washington Post reporter Arelis R. Hernández contains quotes from Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez and McAllen Mayor Jim Darling.
WASHINGTON POST: The way many Republicans describe it, President Biden has thrown open the border between Mexico and the United States so that anyone who wants to come into the country can do so, illegally or legally.
Former president Donald Trump accused Biden of “recklessly eliminating our border, security measures, controls, all of the things.” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) says Biden has rushed to implement “open border policies.” Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) says the new president “sent a message around South and Central America that our border is open.”
But many of those who live along the border in Texas say that while there has been a dramatic increase in the number of migrants caught crossing illegally, the border itself has been heavily restricted for nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Last March, the Trump administration closed the border to nonessential pedestrian and vehicular traffic from Mexico, halting not just asylum seekers but also Mexicans who regularly crossed international bridges to legally shop, dine and spend money in border communities. Border cities, many of which struggle with high rates of poverty, depend on the fees collected from bridge traffic and have seen their coffers empty with the closures.
In Texas’s Rio Grande Valley — home to 13 international bridges for pedestrians and vehicles — traffic at the crossings is down 50 to 60 percent, representing millions in losses, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and local officials. In Hidalgo County alone, leaders say cross-border commerce represents about a third of its revenue. The same is happening at the 15 other international bridges and border crossings in the state.
“There’s no open borders here,” Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez said. “The border is shut down to most everyone.”
Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above news clip shows migrants, many of whom were returned to Mexico under the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, waiting in line to get a meal in an encampment near the Gateway International Bridge in Matamoros, Mexio. (AP Photo/Veronica G. Cardenas, File)
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