US Closes Lanes, Adds Checks at Mexico Border to Contain Virus

August 22, 2020 Updated: August 22, 2020

WASHINGTON—The United States on Friday closed lanes at select ports of entry at the border with Mexico and will conduct more secondary checks to limit non-essential travel and the spread of coronavirus, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official said.

Non-essential travel has been restricted at the border since March, but U.S. citizens and permanent residents can still enter the United States from Mexico. The new measures are aimed at those travelers, the CBP official said.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who faces reelection Nov. 3, has taken a series of sweeping steps to scale back immigration during the coronavirus pandemic, including emergency border rules that allow U.S. authorities to rapidly deport migrants arrested at the border.

“We need people to think twice about non-essential travel and to ask themselves if the travel is worth risking their lives and the lives of others,” El Paso CBP spokesman Roger Maier said in a written statement.

CBP said it would take steps to reduce non-essential travel at more than a dozen border crossings in Texas, Arizona, and California. The wait times for passenger vehicles at those ports of entry on Friday evening ranged from no wait to several hours.

By Julio-Cesar Chavez and Ted Hesson