McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Beginning at midnight Friday evening the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada will be closed to all non-essential travel to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which the White House likened to a “war” during a briefing Monday morning.
“We announce today the Canada and Mexico have agreed to restrict non-essential trade across our shared border both countries know the importance of working together to stop the spread of the virus,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “We’re glad to have these friends working side by side in the fight.”
The order is only for “non-essential travel,” and does not include those needing to cross the border at legal ports of entry for: commerce, trade, education, first-responders, medical or health reasons, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said.
“Let me be clear, none applies to lawful trade or commerce, essential activities will not be impacted, we will continue the supply chain,” Wolf said.
Pompeo called the step a necessary move as the country is engaged in “a tough fight but the American people are tougher.”
“We’re showing once again the global leadership America has always delivered,” Pompeo said.
Wolf said that all migrants without proper documentation would immediately be returned to Mexico, Canada “and other countries.”
“Tonight at midnight we will execute the order to immediately return individuals arriving without documents to Canada, Mexico and other countries without delay,” Wolf said.
Holding migrants in detention facilities violates CDC recommendations for six-feet of social distancing between people, he said. It also puts DHS agents, such as those working for the U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement “at risk.”
Wolf said several DHS agents have tested positive for coronavirus and many are self-isolating due to exposure.
“The department has a number of front-line officers who have tested positive,” Wolf said. “I’m doing everything I can to protect these patriots to defend our homeland.”
Trump called coronavirus “an invisible enemy” and said extraordinary measures are needed at this time.
“This is the first time this has ever happened,” Trump said of this unprecedented worldwide pandemic that has thrust the nation into these austere border measures. “The American people are looking for answers and they’re looking for hope.”
Border Report has dispatched correspondents to our borders in southern California, West Texas and South Texas. We will update this story from the field throughout the day.