The U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico are closed to non-essential travel, but agents on the border processing immigration say they haven’t received guidance on what that means and they’re left to make up the rules themselves.
Immigration officers further resent the number of people coming into the U.S., viewing them as physical threats to their health, despite a sharp drop in border crossings. In fact, vehicle traffic is down 56% and foot traffic is down 73% at U.S. land borders.
The continued travel has become a point of contention among union officials and CBP, which the officials said has provided little guidance on who is and isn’t allowed to travel across the border. “It’s a frustration of all angles. We don’t know what essential or nonessential travel is. There’s no clear clarification,” said Ortiz, who is based in San Diego.
Miguel Flores, National Treasury Employees Union chapter president for Eagle Pass and Del Rio, Texas, said that the two types of travel blur together because of the way they’re defined. He said that locally, the union and management have coordinated to clarify the definition to “make it work for our area.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees are unhappy that people are still allowed to cross the border, believing that interfacing with people is a threat. They acknowledge having sufficient personal protective equipment (something many hospitals do not have!) but want to be at the “front-of-line” for repeated coronavirus testing, taking a limited number of tests away from others.