Border restrictions extended for additional 30 days

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 9:38 PM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended the restrictions on border travel by another 30 days.

Local leaders and business owners hope recent developments might be able to change that before the economic damage gets even worse.

For more than a hundred years, Texas’s and Mexico’s international bridges and border crossings have served as a gateway for people into the U.S.

Before the pandemic, in 2018 we saw up to 20 million crossings a year, but activity along the bridges came to halt last year in March and lawmakers are doing whatever they can to open up our boundaries.

“We keep hearing, and we know that the president has allocated the purchase of 500 million of the Pfizer vaccines to donate to the world to those underprivileged of the world and undeserved communities,” said Councilman Alberto Torres. “It is our goal to reach out to the Biden administration to ask them to designate vaccines for border communities.”

Torres is hoping a new shipment of the Pfizer vaccines directed at Mexico could influence the opening of the bridges to non-essential travelers and the downtown area could not be more anxious as sales continue to suffer.

“The downtown area in particular is feeling the significant the negative impact of the border closure,” said Mayor Pete Saenz.

“It’s a shame that the government, the U.S. government decided not to open because they’ve been telling us how it’s going to be the right time and everything and it didn’t happen,” said Hugo Mendiola, manager Zorba downtown.

Mendiola’s disappointment is understandable. The downtown area used to be one of the most thriving areas of our community, but politics are now the focus.

“The border is not only secure, and I’m first to say the border has to be secure, gotta be secure, but by way of a fence- I don’t think that’s going to go a long way unless he gets co-operation of private landowners,” said Saenz.

“We keep hearing that the border is going to open on July 4th,” said Torres. “Obviously, the government has already made announcement we will will reconsider the opening until July the 21st and this would give us a month to see if we could designate these vaccines to these Mexican communities so we can can have these safe plans of opening up our borders since don’t have any from the federal agencies.”

“The ideal situation is just to open up the bridges,” Saenz continued. “Open the bridges and the lift the restrictions, let commerce flow. Let the tourists, the people come visit Laredo.”

On Congressman Henry Cuellar’s Twitter page, he published a statement that says in part:

“Another month of restrictions will continue to hurt our economy and keep loved ones apart.”

He goes on to say he’s encouraged by positive developments between DHS, the White House, Canada and Mexico regarding reopening.

The vaccine rollout has been much slower for Mexico.

Vaccines for seniors over the age of 65 were barely made available less than two months ago.

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