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Fewer crossings at the Mexico-United States border than expected occurred on Monday as it reopened to non-essential travel after a 20-month closure given the COVID-19 pandemic, with many residents staying home to avoid potential congestion.
Officials from the Mexican city of Tijuana stated that people did not make the most of restrictions being lifted along the 2,000-mile (3,200-km) border to avoid getting caught in traffic.
"In the morning, there was no line," Tijuana resident Claudia Hernandez said as she prepared to enter the United States to go shopping ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday next week.
"We thought they were going to tell us again they had decided not to open it," said Lorena Hernandez, smiling broadly after they were reunited in El Paso for the first time since March 2020. "I said: If they don't reopen, I'm going to take a plane."
Yet differing rules over COVID-19 vaccines may hold up other family reunions, and the prospect of some restrictions easing has also led some migrants to try their luck to seek U.S. asylum - posing a test for the Biden administration.
Some vaccinated Mexicans could not enter the United States immediately if they received vaccines in Mexico not yet approved by the World Health Organization, such as China's CanSino and Russia's Sputnik V.
"I never imagined that because I got the CanSino vaccine, I wouldn't be able to cross," lamented Donato Suarez, a driver at a private university in Tijuana. The latter is trying to visit relatives in the U.S. he has not seen for nearly two years.
"We even had plans to do something when the border reopened," he added, noting that nearly 300 people where he works are in the same predicament. "We'll have to wait."