The Trump administration on Friday announced sweeping new travel restrictions between U.S. and Mexico in the latest step by the administration to curb the spread of the coronavirus — halting non-essential travel and moving to turn back any illegal immigrants trying to enter the country.
“The United States and Mexico have agreed to restrict non-essential travel across our shared border,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a White House press briefing.
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Officials emphasized that the restrictions would not affect lawful trade and commerce, as the administration seeks to keep the economic supply chain going amid the ongoing crisis.
Moments later, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced that the Center for Disease Control has directed DHS to “suspend the introduction of all individuals without proper documentation” into the U.S. from both the north and southern borders.
He said the restrictions will go into place at midnight tonight, and that anyone caught entering the country illegally would immediately be returned to Mexico, Canada or a number of other countries from where they have originated. The restrictions come amid fears that a wave of migration could bring disease and overwhelm the American healthcare system.
“These measures will protect the health of all three nations and reduce the incentive for mass global migration that would badly deplete the healthcare resources needed for our people,” President Trump said at the beginning of the briefing.
Trump has slapped travel bans on China, Iran and the European Union. This week, Trump announced that the U.S. and Canada had agreed to stop all non-essential travel across the border — that also goes into effect at midnight.
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Trump said Friday the crisis threatens to “create a perfect storm that would spread infections to our border agents, migrants, and to the public at large. Left unchecked this would cripple our system, overwhelm the health care system and threaten national security — we’re not going to let that happen.”
As of Friday morning, the U.S. had 14,250 confirmed cases of coronavirus in all 50 states, including Washington, D.C. The U.S., so far, has seen 205 COVID-19-related deaths.
This is a breaking news story, check back for updates.