US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas is in Mexico to discuss immigration and border security.
Mexico aims to gradually lift restrictions related to the pandemic along its shared border with the United States as it progresses in vaccinating the local population against COVID-19, Mexico’s Minister of Affairs said on Tuesday. foreign Marcelo Ebrard.
Ebrard said reopening the border would be discussed with US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who arrived in Mexico on Monday evening.
“Mexico is going to make an extraordinary vaccination effort so that our cities have similar standards to the United States in terms of vaccination,” Ebrard said at a regular press conference.
The goal is to ensure that cities bordering Mexico have the same level of protection against COVID-19 as U.S. cities so that there is no longer a case to maintain the restrictions, Ebrard said.
“Once we reach this stage which will start today all along the border, there would be no health argument to maintain these restrictions,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Mexico received a shipment of some 1.35 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the United States that will be used to immunize Mexican border workers aged 18 and over, the government said.
The vaccine shipment will be used to immunize anyone over the age of 18 in four cities along the US border: Tijuana, Mexicali, Ciudad Juarez and Reynosa.
The United States and Mexico have restricted border crossings to essential travel since the start of the pandemic. But pressure is now mounting on the two countries to relax these restrictions in order to resume commercial traffic.
The issue of border closures is linked to concerns over migration and Mayorkas is expected to hold a series of meetings with Mexican officials on Tuesday with the aim of finding ways to curb migration to the United States.
Mayorkas is to meet with security and immigration officials.
Mexico is a vital partner of the United States in its efforts to stem the growing flow of migrants fleeing poverty and gang violence in Central America and heading for the United States-Mexico border.
At the request of the United States, Mexico has reinforced its own southern border with Guatemala with the National Guard in order to prevent migrants from heading north.
Official statistics show that more than 180,000 people were apprehended at the border in May, a peak in 20 years and up slightly from April figures.
Earlier in June, Vice President Kamala Harris visited Guatemala and Mexico to find ways to reduce migration from the region.
From Guatemala, she urged potential migrants not to come.
Since taking office in January, President Joe Biden’s administration has continued to deport the vast majority of migrants arriving under a health provision put in place by former President Donald Trump last year.
Biden, who campaigned on the promise of establishing a more welcoming approach to migrants, has come under political pressure to demonstrate that his policies keep the border secure.
His Republican rivals accuse him of creating a border crisis by reversing Trump’s major anti-immigration policies, while rights groups castigated its policies of restricting asylum as a violation international legal obligations.