Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that CBP is not recognizing vaccination appointments as a reason to allow people into the United States, as non-essential travel restrictions remain in place.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Non-essential travel at the U.S.-Mexico border will continue to be restricted until at least April 21 in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday tweeted about the extension on border travel restrictions, which have been in place since March 2020.
According to the City of El Paso, Texas does not have residency requirements for getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
However, while essential border travel does include medical treatment, Mexican nationals will be unable to cross with vaccine appointment documents, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“CBP is not recognizing an appointment for a vaccination as a medical treatment exemption,” CBP spokesman Roger Maier said.
Earlier, Maier had said that CBP officers make the decision on a case-by-case basis on who is allowed to cross. However, he later said that CBP is not recognizing an appointment for vaccination as an exemption.
Francisco Jaquez, a Mexican national, told KTSM he and his wife want to get the COVID-19 vaccine, but have been unable to get it in Juarez. He explained that very few people in Juarez have been able to get vaccinated, adding that he would like to register in El Paso but has been unable to cross from Juarez to El Paso for the past year due to travel restrictions.
“I would really, really hate to (wait) hours at the border and just suddenly get rejected, that would be really frustrating,” he said.
KTSM also spoke with Omar Terrazas after he crossed the Paso Del Norte International Bridge on Thursday. He explained that he is an American citizen but lives in both El Paso and Juarez. He was crossing from Juarez to El Paso on Thursday to get the COVID-19 vaccine with his wife.
Terrazas said he is allowed to cross since he is an American citizen and has had no issues crossing while the border has been restricted.
“They always ask you why you’re crossing, and I just answered what it is today. I said, ‘I’m going to the Coliseum for the vaccine,’ and that’s totally OK,” Terrazas said.