EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexican border cities will get 1 million doses of the one-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, that country’s president said Monday.
The announcement by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador comes on the eve of Kamala Harris’ visit to Mexico to discuss how to curb the ongoing migrant surge that continues to vex law-enforcement in both countries.
“The main topic on the agenda is immigration, how to deal with the causes of migration,” Lopez Obrador said Monday in a televised news conference. “We coincide in the need to help Central American countries, on the need to invest in jobs and development in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. We are willing to help.”
Lawmakers in Texas who are pushing for an end to non-essential land border travel restrictions say vaccinating residents in Mexican cities across the Rio Grande from their own is vital to rolling back the restrictions. Since March 2020, most Mexicans with tourist visas haven’t been allowed into the United States and U.S. citizens have been warned against non-essential travel, though many have continued to cross the border and cannot be banned from returning to their country.
Chihuahua Gov. Javier Corral said 520,000 of those vaccines would be coming to Juarez — mostly to employees of U.S.-run manufacturing plants known as maquiladoras — and that Tijuana would be getting 120,000.
Corral said he hopes the new round of vaccination persuades Mexico City and Washington, D.C., to lift the travel restrictions next month. However, it’s still not known when the first Johnson & Johnson vaccines will be arriving at the border.
El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser said he welcomed the news.
“Increased vaccination will help contribute to the health of the entire region. We breathe the same air and have many family and commercial connections on both sides of the border,” Leeser said late Monday. “I am thrilled that Chihuahua will be able to vaccinate more people. It not only makes the daily environment safer for our Mexican neighbors, but it will also be key to safer cross border relations.”
Lopez Obrador said he’s grateful for the vaccine donations and characterized his country’s relationship with the Biden administration as “very good.” However, he said his administration will stand firm on upholding Mexico’s sovereignty.
“We will continue to denounce international organizations that provide resources to (groups) that are against the transformation,” the president said. Lopez Obrador often refers to his government as the “4th Transformation” of Mexico.
The controversy stems from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s support for a group called Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity, which Lopez Obrador says is bent on undermining his administration.
Earlier, his Foreign Ministry sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. embassy asking for clarification on the financial support and to put a stop to it.
“The relationship is very good. We are also making progress on the migration issue. But we also have issues that we will deal with in time so that in terms of international politics it is understood Mexico is a free, independent and sovereign country and that we do not accept that anyone comes here to offend us,” Lopez Obrador said on Monday.
He said the issue would not be brought up during Harris’ visit, but would be addressed “little by little” with the Biden administration.