1 1 (April 23, 2020)

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COVID-19: Restrictions on Travelers at U.S.

Land Borders

Updated April 23, 2020
New actions by the federal government in response to the COVID-19 pandemic restrict the entry of
certain foreign nationals into the United States. Customs and Border Protcction (CBP), within the
Departmnnt of Houmland Security (DHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prcvention (CDC),
within the Dcpafrtrent of Health and Human Scrices (HHS), have recently issued orders regarding
travelers arriving at land ports of entry (POEs) at both the northern and southern borders of the United

DHS: Non-essential Travel Restrictions

DHS has issued two orders to temporarily restrict non-essential travel through ports of entry on the
borders between the United States and Canada and Mexico to reduce the risk of exposure to and
transmission of COVID-19. These orders restrict all non-essential travel across borders, loosely defined
as recreational travel or tourism between the countries. Essential travel includes returning U.S. citizens,
lawful permanent residents, and U.S. military and their immediate family members, among others. Cross-
border travel associated with lawful trade is not subject to these restrictions. Under these orders, at land
POEs individuals (regardless of nationality) who are not considered essential travelers by an
immigration officer will not be permitted to enter the United States. The order does not apply to air,
freight rail, or sea travel between the United States and Mexico or Canada, but it does apply to personal
vehicles, pedestrians, passenger rail, and ferry travel.

CDC: Suspending the Introduction of Certain Persons
A CDC order, citing public health concerns rc atcd to the COVID-19 pandenc, bars the entry of many
individuals under the authority of Sections 362 and 365 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C.
265, 268). These provisions allow the CDC Director to suspend the introduction of foreign nationals
from countries where a communicable disease exists if the director determines that their admission would
create an increased public health danger to the United States. The restrictions were originally in effect
through April 20, 2020, but have been extended an add.Itional 30 days.

                                                                Congressional Research Service

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