DHS border rules: Vax required to enter legally from Canada, Mexico; none needed to remain illegally

None of the more than 160,000 illegal aliens recently released into the U.S. were required to receive COVID shots, Fox News reported this week.

Updated: October 14, 2021 - 11:56pm

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In lifting restrictions on non-essential travel to the U.S. from Mexico and Canada this week, the Biden administration announced that foreign travelers attempting to enter the U.S. legally from those nations would need proof of COVID-19 vaccination — even as the administration allows illegal entrants to remain in the U.S. with or without vaccination.

The announcement of mandatory vaccination for these legal travelers comes after the administration has released over one million illegal aliens into the U.S. without requiring COVID vaccines as a condition for entry.

The administration has also acknowledged that the majority of roughly 15,000 Haitians who arrived illegally in Del Rio, Texas, weren't even tested for COVID before they were released.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced that he is amending Title 19 regulations to allow for legal entry in two phases. Beginning in November, foreign travelers arriving from Canada and Mexico may enter the U.S. legally for nonessential travel at land and ferry ports of entry at the northern and southern borders. In January, the policy will expand to cover students, commercial truck drivers and health care workers. 

Under the DHS rules, none of those attempting to enter the U.S. legally will be allowed entry if they can't show proof of COVID vaccination.

Meanwhile, the thousands illegally entering the U.S. on a daily basis by simply walking across the Rio Grande River are to be allowed to remain in the country — with or without vaccine passport — under a new DHS policy that being in the U.S. illegally is no longer sufficient grounds for arrest, even though criminal under federal law. 

Fox News reported this week that of the more than 160,000 illegal aliens recently released into the U.S., including more than 94,000 with Notices to Report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility, none were required to receive COVID shots.

DHS is working with the Centers for Disease Control to determine which COVID-19 vaccines other than those available in the U.S. (Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) will qualify travelers for admission.

On March 20, 2020, President Donald Trump reached an agreement with Mexico and Canada to close the borders to all non-essential travel and trade reportedly to slow the spread of the coronavirus. On Aug. 9, 2021, Canada opened its border to fully vaccinated Americans, but the U.S. northern land border entrance remained closed to Canadians.

Rep. Brian Higgins (D-New York), whose district borders Canada, has railed against U.S. travel restrictions. "I think it's completely irrational," he told the Toronto-based Standard-Freeholder. "These borders should have been opened at the same time, and should have been opened months, months earlier than they actually were opened."

"Cross-border travel creates significant economic activity in our border communities and benefits our broader economy," Mayorkas said in a statement. "We are pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel in a safe and sustainable manner."

DHS is expected to announce additional guidelines, however, Canadian and Mexican nationals entering legally will still be subject to spot checks and may have to undergo secondary checks, according to the new policy. Likewise, unvaccinated individuals will still be prohibited from legal entry into the United States.