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DHS now requiring proof of COVID vaccination for U.S.-Mexico border crossing

U.S. Mexico border checkpoint
AP Photo

The Department of Homeland Security began requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination over the weekend for essential as well as nonessential travel across the U.S.-Mexico border.

The tougher requirement that took effect Saturday had been expected since last fall, when the government reopened the border to nonessential travel after nearly 20 months of pandemic restrictions.

But, according to Cronkite News, it raised concerns anew among officials in border towns, who are still reeling from the economic hit they took during the previous shutdown.

The U.S.-Mexico border was closed to nonessential travel from March 2020 through Nov. 8, 2021. While returning U.S. citizens, truckers and health care workers were among those considered to be essential travelers, tourism and recreation travel were defined as nonessential and barred for those 20 months.

As a result, tourism travel from Mexico to Arizona fell 43% from 2019 to 2020, and tourist spending fell by more than half, from $1.37 billion to $613 million in the same period, according to data from the Maricopa Association of Governments.