Mexican Protesters Try To Block Americans From Fleeing Into Their Country
President Donald Trump is well known for his desire to clamp down on the southern U.S. border, most notably via the monstrous wall he is working to build, but now, as the coronavirus pandemic widens, it is Mexicans trying to keep Americans from flooding into their country.
The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that a group of Mexican protesters shut down Mexico-bound traffic for several hours at the DeConcini crossing, with two vehicles blocking the lanes several hundred feet into the Mexico side of the border.
Fewer than a dozen people with the group Sonorenses por la Salud y la Vida (Sonorans for Health and Life) participated, with some carrying signs telling U.S. residents to “stay at home.” The group also demanded greater controls and screening efforts at the border in order to keep Americans from bringing more coronavirus cases into Mexico.
The U.S. has significantly more coronavirus cases than its neighbor to the south, the Republic noted, and cases in states along both sides of the border number higher as well.
Arizona has confirmed more than 400 cases of COVID-19 and recorded at least six deaths, including in the county home to the border crossing.
The protesters are also concerned that as Trump continues deporting migrants and sending them back into Mexico, those migrants are not being properly screened for the virus.
Overall, Mexicans have been critical of their own president’s response to the pandemic and believe he is putting Mexicans in harm's way by not enacting tougher policy at the border.
“There are no health screenings by the federal government to deal with this pandemic,” said Jose Luis Hernandez, a member of the Sonorans for Health and Life group. “That’s why we’re here in Nogales. We’ve taken this action to call on the Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to act now.”
The U.S. and Mexican governments agreed to limit travel along the border last week, leaving open only "essential" reasons, such as medical emergencies, school or work, but few controls are in place on the Mexico side to enforce the restrictions.
López Obrador has taken a relaxed approach to the pandemic, defying public health officials’ advice in his own country and across the globe by telling Mexicans they should continue going out for dinner and supporting the economy.
“I will tell you when not to go out anymore,” he said.
In the U.S., Trump is considering easing up on restriction in at least some areas of the country as the White House’s 15-day social distancing period nears its end. It remains to be seen when or if the president will loosen guidelines meant to help slow the virus’ spread in the U.S., but public health officials have warned such measures might need to stay in place for weeks longer.