Fact: Border communities have shouldered a disproportionately high socio-economic costs due to the “temporary” “non-essential” travel restrictions at land ports of entry begun in March 2020. These restrictions have served as a reminder of the interdependence between the U.S. and Mexico that allow for jobs, hope, and opportunity on both sides of our borders.

Fact: While our bridges may be authorized to return to more normal operations, our communities will not be able to return to normal flow of tourism and commerce due to the limited ability of “non-essential” travelers to gain access to DHS approved COVID-19 vaccines.

Since our bridges were closed, our communities have continually worked with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on a plan for returning to normal operations. “Tell us what we need to do, and we will comply.”  Unfortunately, our communities were not given a chance to collaborate with DHS when the policy to allow the entry of fully-vaccinated non-essential travelers was developed and implemented. Once again, Federal policy ignored many of the challenges we have here on the border. One of the main challenges is how do “non-essential” border crossers comply with the requirements to become fully vaccinated while Mexico. Our communities have once again developed local solutions to address a federal mandate. However, these logical solutions to provide vaccinations to daily cross border travelers from Mexico have fallen on an apparently deaf Biden Administration.

Each one of our elected representatives, Senator Cornyn, Reps Cuellar, Gonzalez, and Vela, have pledged their support to our vaccine pilot. Unfortunately, their support has once again fallen on an apparently deaf Biden Administration. U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar is our last hope. Ambassador Salazar has also pledged his support. As a representative of the Biden Administration, only he has the ear of the President. Only Ambassador Salazar can implore the President to order the Secretary of Homeland Security to modify the “Notificcaaaaaa4ation of Temporary Travel Restrictions Applicable to Land Ports of Entry and Ferries Service Between the United States and Mexico” to allow for the non-essential travel of COVID-19 unvaccinated individuals from Mexico into the United States at land ports of entry along the United States-Mexico border for the purposes of becoming fully vaccinated for COVID-19 (as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to align with anticipated changes to international travel by air.

Unless these vaccination pilots are given the green light, our communities will be getting another stocking full of coal for Christmas, courtesy of the Biden Administration.

Editor’s Note: Here are news stories the Rio Grande Guardian has run on the proposal to run a pilot program that allows Matamoros residents to obtain the Covid-19 vaccine in downtown Brownsville:

Click here for a story headlined, “Whitlock: Democrats will lose congressional seats if they do not reopen border bridges soon.”

Click here for a story headlined, “U.S. Ambassador to Mexico supports Roma, RGC, Brownsville vaccine pilot programs.”

Click here for a story headlined, “Mendez backs plan to allow Matamoros citizens to get vaccinated in Brownsville.”

Click here for a story headlined, “Whitlock: A glut of vaccines? Give them to Mexican visa holders.”

Click here for a story headlined, “Whitlock: More COVID vaccines will be needed in RGV when border bridges are reopened.”

Click here for a story headlined, “Whitlock: Open the Texas-Mexico International Bridges. Now!”

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by public policy advocate Ron Whitlock. It appears in The Rio Grande Guardian with the permission of the author. Whitlock has proposed a pilot program to the Biden Administration whereby Matamoros residents could enter Brownsville to get their Covid-19 vaccine. Whitlock can be reached by email via: [email protected]

Editor’s Note: The main image accompanying the above guest column shows the column’s author, Ron Whitlock, flanked by Congressmen Henry Cuellar of Laredo and Vicente Gonzalez of McAllen.

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