President Trump is expected to announce Friday that he plans to temporarily close the U.S.-Mexico border to non-essential travel, according to two administration officials. The arrangement would be similar to the temporary closure of the Canadian border, with exemptions for trade and essential personnel.
Mr. Trump hadn't ruled out the possibility publicly. When asked about possible border closures, Mr. Trump said earlier this week, "I don't want to say that, but we are discussing things with Canada, and we're discussing things with Mexico."
Mexico has relatively few confirmed coronavirus cases, compared with the United States' at least 9,415 confirmed cases, according to Johns Hopkins data. Mexico had been considering closing the border with the U.S. to keep infected foreign nationals out of its country.
It is unclear if the Department of Homeland Security has a plan in place to handle migrants at the border, most importantly for those seeking asylum.
"The president has taken early, frequent, and decisive action to protect the American people from the coronavirus. It is a unprecedented public health emergency that we do not take lightly," Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said in a statement. "The introduction and spread of coronavirus in our border patrol and detention facilities presents a serious danger to aliens, our frontline agents and officers, and the American people. The Department currently apprehends foreign nationals from over 120 different countries, many of whom fail to carry with them any identity, travel or medical documentation. DHS will aggressively implement new measures to protect the American people and its workforce as needed."
Mr. Trump has often pointed to border and travel restrictions in touting his administration's response to the rapidly spreading virus. The president particularly points to his administration's decision to quickly restrict travel from China, where the virus originated.