Traffic From Mexico Blows Through U.S. Travel Restrictions

President Donald Trump’s ban on “non-essential” border travel isn’t slowing down traffic coming from Mexico. Since the March 20 order was extended to Sept. 21, volumes have increased and sharply in some areas.

San Ysidro, the busiest port of entry in California, saw a 72 percent rise in northbound pedestrian crossings from April to July. The number of private vehicle passengers rose 62 percent, and the number of private vehicles increased 47 percent.

Pedestrians and private-vehicle passengers coming through San Ysidro combined for a total of 1,693,338 crossings in July, compared to 1,031,906 in April.

El Paso, the biggest border crossing in Texas, recorded a whopping 220 percent increase in pedestrians from April to July. Vehicle passenger counts were up 106 percent, with the number of vehicles climbing 79 percent.

Pedestrians and vehicle passengers at El Paso combined for 963,457 crossings in July, compared to 419,046 in April.

The tallies by the U.S. Department of Transportation include individuals who enter the country multiple times per month. The crossings may or may not be “essential”; U.S. Customs and Border Protection has not reported how many people are turned back.

But following a pattern FAIR reported on last month, entries into this country are increasing substantially at the southern border, even as Americans remain under coronavirus restrictions.

U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Christopher Landau, cited five- and six-hour delays at ports of entry as border agents focus on “essential travel.” He said many were crossing to shop, dine and visit families. “Such irresponsible behavior is exacerbating the health crisis,” he said.

Border counties in Texas have reported spikes in COVID cases and hospitalizations. Officials in Starr and Hidalgo counties started imposing curfews and voluntary stay-at-home directives in July, urging that non-essential business activities be curtailed or suspended.

Yet despite presidential edicts and local pleas, border traffic keeps building. At current rates, crossings will be back to pre-COVID levels by the time the administration’s non-essential travel ban expires — if they’re not already.

About Author


Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.