In response to the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump recently issued an order banning all "non-essential" travel across the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico. However, days after the order was issued came reports of Mexican vehicles crossing into the U.S. in Arizona for shopping trips. Tim Foley with Arizona Border Recon confirmed those reports. "When I go shopping up in Tuscon and places like that, I'm still seeing Sonora (Mexico) license plates," he says. "They don't have a Costco in northern Mexico."
According to the reports, there was disagreement between some border patrol supervisors over the language in the president's order and how to enforce it. Nelson Balido, CEO of Border Commerce & Security Council, tells KTRH the order is not entirely clear. "What exactly is essential travel? I don't know if we've really defined what that means," he says.
According to the Federal Register, "essential travel" is for medical purposes, not sightseeing, visiting family, attending events, etc. But Balido argues shopping could be a gray area, if someone claims they're trying to get food or milk for their family.
What it all means is that the president's order, while newsworthy, will likely prove difficult to enforce. "It sounds like a great talking point, and it may restrict some tourism and may restrict some cultural activities, but there's no tourism or cultural activities going on right now anyway," says Balido. "They're all closed."