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Trump Administration Says U.S. Border With Mexico To Close To Nonessential Travel

A Border Patrol agent walks along a border wall separating Tijuana, Mexico, from San Diego earlier this week. Travel between the U.S. and Mexico will halt as of Saturday to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated at 2:45 p.m. ET

Trump administration officials say nonessential travel between the U.S. and Mexico will halt as of Saturday to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

"The United States and Mexico have agreed to restrict nonessential travel over our shared border," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters Friday.

This agreement is similar to the one announced earlier this week to partially close the U.S. border with Canada, he said.

The agreements with Canada and Mexico both go into effect on Saturday, said Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.

Wolf said that essential travel that will still be allowed includes people traveling for medical reasons, education, emergency response, public health services and trade. Recreational travel or tourism will not be allowed, according to DHS.

He said the restrictions do not apply to "lawful trade or commerce," and essential commercial activities will not be impacted.

Wolf added that an order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will "suspend the introduction of all individuals seeking to enter the U.S. without proper travel documentation" at the borders with both Canada and Mexico.

He said the CDC has determined that the "introduction and spread of the coronavirus in the department's border patrol stations and detention facilities presents a serious danger to migrants, our front line agents and officers, and the American people."

The restrictions at both borders will reviewed after 30 days.

In a tweet late Thursday, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said he had spoken to Pompeo and stated that measures to prevent the spread of the virus should not stop economic activity and that the border should remain open to trade and work.

On Friday, according to Reuters, Ebrard "said Mexico was resisting U.S. requests to suspend flights from some of the worst-hit coronavirus regions in the world, but that talks were ongoing with the United States."

Mexico has 164 confirmed cases of the virus as of Friday afternoon, according to a dashboard created by the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering. At least one person has died.

Amnesty International criticized the border closure. "This is cruel, short-sighted, and opportunistic. Every person has the right to seek safety. Full stop," Charanya Krishnaswami, the group's advocacy director for the Americas, said in a statement.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
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