PHARR, Texas – Rio Grande Valley elected officials say it is unfair to let Europeans who have received a vaccination for Covid-19 enter the United States but not those from Mexico.
“Obviously that is not fair. If you are vaccinated, I could care less what country you are coming from. If you have proof and we can validate that it is an absolutely credible source of vaccination it makes no difference what country you come from, in my opinion. None whatsoever,” said Dr. Ambrosio Hernandez, MD, the mayor of Pharr (pictured above).
The Biden Administration has said that starting in early November, citizens of the European Union and the United Kingdom can fly into the United States, if they have received a Covid-19 vaccine. The new rule does not apply to land ports of entry so Mexican visa holders living in, say, Matamoros, Reynosa or Nuevo Laredo will not be allowed into South Texas.
Land ports of entry have been closed to so-called “non-essential” travelers since March 2020 in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
State Rep. Sergio Muñoz of Mission said the new rule wreaks of hypocrisy.
“We know we have people from Mexico flying in daily, with or without the vaccine. They are flying into McAllen, they are flying into Harlingen, they are flying into San Antonio, from Mexico. Those that have the means to do so. Those who have to cross through the ports of entry in their vehicle, unfortunately, are prohibited from doing so,” Muñoz said.
Like Dr. Hernandez, Muñoz said those who can prove they have been vaccinated should be allowed into the United States.
“If you are going to be fair, you would apply the new rule across the board. If the vaccination numbers go up not only here on the United States side but on the Mexican side then the bridges should be reopened. I know they are looking at those daily to see when the prohibition should be lifted in terms of non-essential travel. But I do feel we should have the same treatment and it should be expedited.”
State Sen. Juan Hinojosa of McAllen said the Biden Administration needs to be consistent in its travel restriction policies.
“It is a double standard. We need to allow Mexican nationals to come across and do business here in Texas. They are very much key to the economy here in the Rio Grande Valley. If they can show they have been vaccinated they ought to be allowed to come across and shop and do their business here and visit their families.” Hinojosa said. “The ban on non-essential travel is hurting us economically.”
U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar said it is not just the economy that is suffering. He said families have been torn apart by the travel ban.
“I think we (South Texas leaders) are all on the same page. We want to open up the bridges. I have talked to the secretary (of homeland security) about this many a time. I have talked to the CDC. We certainly want to see our bridges open, not only for economics – Mexicans spent $19 billion in the United States before the pandemic,” Cuellar said.
“It is also about the families. I talked to somebody in Monterrey. They had not seen their daughter for one year and seven months. It is also about families and family members who have not seen their loved ones for many, many months.”
Cuellar said he is also concerned about the State Department having enough staff to cope with a surge in visa applications, once the land ports of entry are open to non-essential travel. It is believed many Mexican nationals have not reapplied for their visas after they lapsed.
“There could be a surge in applications. That is a concern. We have to do everything possible. I have a call with the state department in about an hour. We will be talking about the issue you are talking about, among other things,” Cuellar said, in response to a question from Ron Whitlock Reports about Mexican nationals with lapsed visas.
Hidalgo Mayor Sergio Coronado told Notimex that he has heard land ports of entry on the U.S.-Mexican border could be reopened in November.
“There is the possibility that they will reopen to the community in general next month, in November, after a high percentage of the population is already vaccinated on both sides of the border,” Notimex reported, following an interview with Coronado.
“According to the latest meetings held with U.S. authorities in the three layers of government, it is established that the border bridges will be reactivated once the largest percentage of the population, both from Mexico and from United States, have the received the vaccine against Covid-19.”
Coronado said 75 percent of the population in his city has already been vaccinated and that similar percentages are common in other Valley cities.
Coronado said his city has been mounting a public relations campaign to get people to take the vaccine.
“We are working together with some Mexican cities. We have already done it with the Governor of Nuevo León, Samuel García, who has been sending workers and minors to the cities of southern Texas to apply the vaccine,” Coronado said.
He said he has started talks with the new mayor of Reynosa, Carlos Peña Ortiz about allowing Reynosa residents to come to Hidalgo to be vaccinated.
“We are already in talks with Mayor Carlos Peña, to be able to support them in the vaccination process. The intention is that 100 percent of the population on both sides of the border be vaccinated and thus, as soon as possible, we open the way to resume international crossings,” Coronado told Notimex.
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