Henry Cuellar

10/14/2021 | Press release | Archived content

Rep. Cuellar’s Statement on Decision to Allow Fully Vaccinated Non-Essential Travelers to Enter United States Via Land

Laredo, TX - Today, U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) released the following statement in regard to the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) decision to amend Title 19 regulations to allow fully vaccinated non-essential travelers to enter the United States via land and ferry ports of entry across the U.S. northern and southern borders.

"Finally! Finally! Those are the first words that come to my mind. I have been fighting for this with two administrations and now we can finally say that our borders are open to fully vaccinated non-essential travelers. The decision could not come at a better time as we get ready for the holiday shopping season, and I cannot stress enough what that means for our small businesses along the border. We have to understand that if this decision would have been prolonged any further, many of these businesses would have ceased to exist forever, many of them already have," said Congressman Cuellar. "There are individuals that have not seen their loved ones in almost 2 years because of the travel restrictions, now they will be able to do that next month, and I share their excitement. The next step is to ensure that all travel through our border is done in the safest, most responsible way possible. I will continue to work with Washington and local authorities to ensure that we implement the best available procedures. Furthermore, I want to encourage all essential travelers that are not fully vaccinated, to do so now, do not wait until January and risk the possibility of not being able to come in."

The changes to the Title 19 regulations will occur in two phases:

The first phase will take place in November, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will begin allowing fully-vaccinated travelers from Mexico or Canada to enter the United States at land and ferry POEs for non-essential reasons. All non-essential travelers will be required to provide proof of vaccination from a World Health Organization (WHO) or U.S. approved vaccine.

The second phase, will begin in early January 2022, when DHS will require that all inbound foreign national travelers crossing U.S. land borders - whether for essential or non-essential reasons - be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination.

Vaccinations approved by WHO include:

  • Moderna
  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Janssen (Johnson and Johnson)
  • Oxford/AstaZeneca
  • Serum Institute of India
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac

The expectation is that the new travel system will create consistent, stringent protocols for all foreign individuals traveling to the U.S., while taking into account the wide variety of COVID-19 vaccinations available. The new system will apply to travel by air, land, or ferry.

The decision lifts the restrictions that have barred non-essential travel by Canadian and Mexican citizens across the U.S. border since March 2020.