Mexico considers closing border with U.S.

We already knew these are strange times. Confirmation isn’t necessary.

If it were, this report from the Daily Mail would suffice:

For once, the conversation over closing the US-Mexico border is being driven by Mexican health officials who say they are considering shutting out Americans to keep coronavirus out of their country.

There are currently more than 2,000 cases of the virus in the US and it is spreading rapidly. Forty-three people have died from it.

By contrast in Mexico, there have only been 16 confirmed cases and no deaths.

At a press conference on Friday, health minister Hugo Lopez-Gatell said: ‘Mexico wouldn’t bring the virus to the United States, rather the United States would bring it here.

‘The possible flow of coronavirus would come from the north to the south.

‘If it were technically necessary, we would consider mechanisms of restriction or stronger surveillance,’ he said.

Actually, the flow of the virus could come either way. There are many more infections in the U.S. than in Mexico, and this will very likely continue to be the case. But many Mexicans want to enter the U.S., and it’s possible that, if the virus spreads there, some of them will be infected. (If the virus doesn’t thrive in hot weather, it may not become widespread in Mexico, and the warm weather Mexico experiences in the winter may help explain the low number of cases.)

According to the Daily Mail, until now Mexico hasn’t taken measures to prevent an outbreak. Unlike some other Latin American countries, the Mexicans have not closed schools or banned entry to people coming from countries with high numbers of coronavirus cases.

If Mexico now is going to get serious about protecting its citizens against the virus, it might make sense to ban travel from the U.S. But given Mexico’s prior lack of seriousness, it might make sense for the U.S. to ban travel from Mexico despite the low number of known coronavirus cases there.

Such a ban by the U.S. wouldn’t help curb illegal immigration. That’s already prohibited.

Nor is it clear that a Mexican ban on travel from the U.S. would be of much help in this regard, even if Mexico cooperated with the U.S. Few Americans are sneaking across the border into Mexico. Thus, a Mexican travel ban presumably would not entail deploying many resources at the places where Mexicans and others from Central America enter the U.S. illegally.

The Mexican minister’s talk about stronger surveillance sounds more like tit-for-tat than serious policy. A ban on U.S. entry into Mexico would likely focus on conventional points of entry.

The bottom line is that Mexico should do what it considers necessary to ward off the coronavirus. And these are, indeed, strange days.

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