Border Report: Reopening Still Uncertain Amid Baja Vaccine Push

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Border Report: Reopening Still Uncertain Amid Baja Vaccine Push

Mexico has made a big push to vaccinate people in Baja California in an effort to reopen the border crossing, but it’s still not clear when restrictions will be lifted.

The San Ysidro Port of Entry / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Yes, I am aware that the Border Report is turning into the Reopen the Border Report. But this continues to be the biggest local border story in terms of how many families, friendships and businesses are impacted.

And people on both sides of the border are noticing.

Earlier this month, the mayors of San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach and Coronado co-signed a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to express their “disappointment in the decision to extend the moratorium on non-essential travel to July 21.”

The letter cited a $7.75 million weekly hit to the region’s retail sector and more than 200 San Ysidro businesses permanently closed since the pandemic began.

“It is time to lift these restrictions and allow for the free flow of daily travelers,” the letter states.

If you have any questions about the current travel restrictions, check out this great explainer.

To date, the federal government has not given the public a timeline or metric for reopening the border.

And conflicting information from the south side of the border continues to cast a cloud of uncertainty over a potential reopening.

On the bright side, 79 percent of residents 18 or older have been vaccinated with at least one shot in Baja California, Bloomberg reports. That’s a higher rate than California’s 62 percent.

Mexico is prioritizing its vaccine rollout to the borderlands to compel the U.S. to reopen the border.

But people in the rest of the country aren’t being vaccinated at the same rate, Bloomberg noted. Nationwide, only 16 percent of the Mexican population is fully vaccinated, compared with 47 percent of the U.S. population.

On the not-so-bright side, Mexico entered its third wave of the pandemic as infections rose by 29 percent, the AP reports.

New cases are largely coming from younger, less vulnerable people and are attributed to more people being out in public, and not the Delta variant, according to the AP.

Big News for Deported Vets

The Biden administration announced a plan this month to bring deported veterans and their immediate families back to the United States.

The activism behind the deported veterans movement grew out of Tijuana, the Union-Tribune noted. Its unofficial leader is Hector Barajas, a deported veteran who has invited politicians to Tijuana to show them how deported veterans live south of the border.

Hector Barajas
Hector Barajas, a deported veteran, holds up proof of his citizenship, flanked by Nathan Fletcher. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

To be clear though, all deported veterans and their families are definitely coming back into the U.S.

In true bureaucratic fashion, the federal government announced a policy review on how to bring them back. On top of that review, White House officials said they plan to remove barriers for current military members to become naturalized U.S. citizens and create an immigration resource center for service members and their families.

Still, the announcement was a welcome “first step” to activists who have been working on this issue for years, the U-T reported.

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