The administration’s ban on all non-essential traffic on the U.S.-Mexico border has placed a dramatic halt to vehicle and pedestrian traffic, but legal cross-border trade is still taking place on a daily basis.
Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan held a conference call with reporters Thursday, detailing how the coronavirus lockdown has affected the flow of immigration on the southern border. The Trump administration’s decision to temporarily prohibit all non-essential travel — including the immediate return of all illegal migrants — has resulted in substantial drops in cross-border travel.
The effects of the border lockdown have been staggering. International travel has fallen by nearly 98%, pedestrian traffic has fallen by more than 75%, and non-commercial vehicle-related traffic has fallen by more than 70%,” Morgan said Wednesday.
The fall in pedestrian and vehicle traffic amounts to roughly 100,000 fewer people and 160,000 fewer vehicles a day, respectively.
However, the CBP chief said the nation’s borders are not “shut down” in a literal sense — there is still rampant trade taking place, assuaging a shattered economy.
“It’s important to clarify — words matter on this,” Morgan said. “We did not ‘shut down’ our borders. From the beginning our neighbors to the North and South realized, as did the United States, the importance of not negatively impacting the lawful trade and commerce that flows between our countries and North America.”
The amount of trade, despite the coronavirus lockdown, totals in the billions of dollars every single day.
“Every day, over $3 billion in trade crosses the borders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada,” Morgan said. “This trade is essential to the economies and well-being of North America.”
Such trade is vital while the U.S. economy takes a beating, with so many Americans forced to stay at home under lockdown orders. Data released by the Labor Department on Thursday revealed that jobless claims have exceeded 6 million for the second straight week, a statistic that tops the 2008 recession.
“CBP has and will continue to process cargo, international mail, express consignment packages,” Morgan added. “We know firsthand just how important the global supply chain is to the economic security of this country and to the ongoing fight of COVID-19.” (RELATED: Senate Democrats Say Trump Admin ‘Blatantly Misinterpreting’ The Law With Emergency Border Closure)
The CBP chief also said that his agency is making sure that vital medical equipment and personal protective equipment — all essential as the government tackles the virus — are able to transit through U.S. borders.
The agency has also established a “special team” that is expediting the importation of critical medical supplies to combat COVID-19.
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