Foreign visitors grab chance for family reunions in US

Published November 9, 2021
Cars wait in line at the San Ysidro Port of Entry as the Mexico-US border reopens in Tijuana, Mexico, November 8. — Reuters
Cars wait in line at the San Ysidro Port of Entry as the Mexico-US border reopens in Tijuana, Mexico, November 8. — Reuters

NEW YORK: Long lines formed at border crossings on Monday as the United States reopened to foreign visitors vaccinated against Covid-19, ending 20 months of restrictions that separated families, hobbled tourism and strained diplomatic ties.

From Rainbow Bridge at the US-Canada border to Mexico’s Tijuana crossing at San Ysidro, California, cars, motor homes and masked pedestrians clogged entry points before dawn as they sought eagerly anticipated reunions with family members and friends.

At airports in Europe, passengers queued excitedly to board planes bound for American cities, while those entering the country by land — some seen lugging suitcases and pushing bag-filled strollers under the watchful eyes of border patrol agents — were greeted by hours-long wait times.

The ban, imposed by then president Donald Trump in early 2020 and upheld by his successor Joe Biden, had become emblematic of the upheavals caused by the pandemic.0 Trump initially closed US borders to China travelers in February, 2020.

A month later he extended the ban to large swathes of the world, including the European Union, Britain, India and Brazil, in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Overland visitors from Mexico and Canada were also banned.

At Frankfurt airport in Germany, Hans Wolf was queueing at the check-in counter, visibly moved, bound for Houston to visit his son whom he had not seen in two years.

“We booked the first flights in March and had since then rebooked I think 28 times, and spent so much money in between that this flight must really be profitable now,” he said.

At London Heathrow Airport, two planes from rivals British Airways and Virgin Atlantic heading to New York took off at the same time from parallel runways to mark the occasion.

To cope with surging demand, airlines have increased the number of transatlantic flights and plan to use larger planes. Along the US-Mexico border, many cities have faced economic struggles due to anti-Covid trade restrictions.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

28 Nov 2021

Creating superbugs

THE tendency to pop antibiotic pills at every sneeze has brought us to the brink of a disastrous health crisis. For...
28 Nov 2021

Insensitive statement

RULERS tend to downplay poverty to avoid its political fallout. Therefore, we often see governments manipulating...
28 Nov 2021

Channel tragedy

THE responses of the French and British governments to the biggest human tragedy in the English Channel in recent...
27 Nov 2021

Supporting ECP

ALTHOUGH the government bulldozed legislation on electronic voting machines through parliament, the reality is that...
27 Nov 2021

Forgiving the Taliban

IF there is one takeaway from Thursday’s gathering of more than 1,000 Shia Hazaras in Kabul, it is the call given...
Living in fear
Updated 27 Nov 2021

Living in fear

THE registration of a blasphemy case against four members of a family from a village on the outskirts of Lahore has...