North America, Bordered Up

Written by Susan Kohn Ross

The U.S. is working closely with Mexico and Canada to ensure North America has a coordinated approach to combating the pandemic caused by COVID-19, and mitigating any further spread. The United States and Canada have agreed to restrict travel at the land border to essential travel only (details regarding those travel restrictions can be found here and here). In a similar fashion, the United States and Mexico are finalizing an agreement that will facilitate only essential travel at the U.S. southern border. The three countries are maintaining cross-border activities that support health security, commerce, supply security, trade, and other essential activities, while taking prudent steps to protect citizens and to limit spread of the virus. The stated goal of these efforts is to help save lives. As such, these restrictions are in place indefinitely.

This suspension of entry does not apply to U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents entering the United States from Mexico or Canada. They will receive the same processing, evaluation, and potential CDC medical screening that all entrants currently undergo at U.S. Ports of Entry.

While these new border restrictions may seem severe, they are not dissimilar to travel restrictions currently seen all over the world. Many countries have imposed at least partial travel restrictions or bans on non-citizens.

The current restrictions are ever-changing, with updates occurring every day (and sometimes every hour). While many health officials and governments highly encourage avoiding travel altogether, we understand that for those engaged in “essential” activities or businesses, travel may remain necessary. For those needing to travel at this time, in addition to the current travel restrictions mandated by countries of destination, it is equally important to understand and consider the policies being implemented by countries of origin. You don’t want to get stuck during your travels in the current environment.  If your employees need to cross the border into the U.S., they must have proper entry documents, of course, but also some form of identification from the company is also needed. CBP has briefed its border officers to reinforce this point. If your employees encounter difficulty getting into the U.S., CBP recommends asking to speak with a supervisor.

We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available. To view our latest alerts on the novel coronavirus, see our COVID-19 blog channel here and information pertaining to “shelter in place” orders here.

For more information, please see the following links:

DHS News Release

Federal Register Notice

Mexican Border Federal Register Notice: here and here.

White House Briefing: Members of the Coronavirus Task Force Hold a Press Briefing (Video)
Streamed live on March 20, 2020

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