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Washington (AFP) - The United States announced Friday that it has agreed with Mexico and Canada to restrict non-essential travel because of the coronavirus outbreak and is planning to repatriate undocumented immigrants arriving from those countries.
President Donald Trump said the moves, reached in agreement with the Mexican and Canadian authorities, were necessary to prevent spreading the virus "to our border agents, migrants, and to the public at large."
"Those measures we are putting in place will protect the health of all three nations and reduce the incentive of mass global migration," Trump said at a White House briefing.
He said they were necessary to deal with the "public health consequences of mass uncontrolled cross border movement" by "thousands of unscreened and unvetted" people.
Trump and other top officials who took part in the briefing stressed that trade with Mexico and Canada would continue.
"Let me be clear that neither of these agreements with Canada or Mexico applies to lawful trade or commerce -- essential commercial activities will not be impacted," acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf said.
"We will continue to maintain a strong and secure economic supply chain across our borders."
Wolf said the agreements with Mexico and Canada restricting non-essential travel would take effect on Saturday.
Non-essential travel is defined as travel that is for tourism or other recreational purposes.
The restrictions will be reviewed after 30 days.
Wolf also said individuals seeking to enter the United States from Mexico or Canada without proper travel documentation would be sent back to their country of origin.
"We'll be sending them back individually to their country," he said. "They go back to the country where they came from."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that any "irregular migrants" who attempt to cross into Canada from the United States would be denied entry.
"Canada and the United States are announcing a reciprocal arrangement where we will now be returning irregular migrants who attempt to cross anywhere at the Canada-US border," Trudeau told reporters.