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Biden administration opening up access from Mexico for vaccinated travelers

White House officials say the government will be turning away unvaccinated travelers at the U.S.-Mexico border, regardless of their reason for entry.

ARIZONA, USA — Editor's note: The above video aired during a previous broadcast.

Senior White House officials say President Joe Biden intends to amend the country's travel restrictions by opening up access at the U.S.-Mexico border for vaccinated travelers

On Tuesday, administration officials said vaccinated travelers flying to the U.S. from Mexico or Canada will be allowed to visit for non-essential reasons starting in November.

The decision will reverse a restriction put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that limited international air travel for urgent matters involving medical procedures or military-related operations. 

Vaccinated nationals of Mexico or Canada will now be allowed to fly into the U.S. for essentially any purpose. Unvaccinated tourists will still be barred access if they're visiting for non-essential purposes.

Starting in January, the federal government plans to open up the ports of entry in Mexico and Canada for fully vaccinated land travelers seeking entry to the U.S.

The Biden administration said it was an appropriate time to ease travel restrictions since the COVID-19 vaccine has become more readily available in Canada and Mexico. 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials said the forthcoming changes to the nation's travel restrictions only apply to foreigners entering the U.S. "legally" and with the "appropriate documentation."  

Undocumented travelers attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border without authorization could still be subject to restrictions outlined in Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allows the U.S. to quickly expel migrants without giving them a chance to seek asylum.

"Any foreign national attempting to enter the United States irregularly through any illegal means or without the proper documentation will be subject to border restrictions," DHS officials said Tuesday.

Administration officials said there's a "strong public health basis" to keep the Title 42 restrictions in place for the moment, despite objections from civil rights groups who have filed lawsuits to discontinue the health policy.

More than 1 million migrants have been expelled under Title 42's authority since it went into effect in March 2020, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The Biden administration's choice to not address amending Title 42 will likely please Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, who has repeatedly criticized the president for not being tougher on immigration policies. 

Earlier this month, the Republican governor released a 10-point plan to resolve the "border crisis" and the first item on Ducey's list called for the White House to keep Title 42 in effect. 

RELATED: Republican governors, including Doug Ducey, demand change from Biden on US-Mexico border policies

RELATED: Arizona shelters trying to keep up with humanitarian crisis at the border

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