Dear Secretary Mayorkas:
We write to express our deep concern regarding the recent implementation of COVID-19
vaccination requirements for travelers entering the United States and the detrimental impact this
mandate will have on our nation's workers and supply chain.
As you know, on January 22, 2022, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began
requiring all non-U.S. citizens entering the United States through land ports and ferry terminals
to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and to provide proof of vaccination.1 These
requirements apply to non-U.S. citizens who are traveling for both essential and non-essential
reasons, including H-2A temporary agricultural workers and truck drivers.
Our nation is facing a major food supply chain crisis and worker shortage. Shelves in grocery
stores remain empty, and the price of food continues to rise. For decades, agricultural employers
who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers have brought nonimmigrant foreign workers to
the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature through the
H-2A temporary agricultural program. Now that these H-2A workers are required to be fully
vaccinated to enter the U.S., we have heard from numerous farmers and constituents who worry
that these new vaccination requirements are delaying and will continue to delay the arrival of H2A workers this year. These limitations and delays will have a catastrophic impact on our already
fragile supply chain and proliferate rising food prices.
Although many employers have encouraged their employees to get vaccinated and many have
even offered to help unvaccinated employees receive a vaccine, vaccine availability varies
widely across Mexico. President Biden's original executive order, issued on October 25, 2021,
allows for the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Director of the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make determinations for exemptions based on vaccine
availability. We urge you to work with HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and CDC Director
Rochelle Walensky to examine vaccine availability in Mexico to determine if this situation
qualifies under Section 4, Subsection (v) of the Presidential Proclamation and allow for
exemptions for these workers.
Furthermore, for purposes of travel to the U.S., the only vaccines accepted are those authorized
for emergency use or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the World
Health Organization (WHO).
This means that some commonly available vaccines in Mexico,
such as CanSino and Sputnik, will not be accepted, and these individuals will not be able to enter
the U.S. to perform essential work. We are not in a position to turn away individuals who are
vaccinated and want to work on American farms. As such, we strongly encourage you to
reevaluate the list of permissible vaccines for travel to the U.S.
Additionally, this vaccine mandate applies to truck drivers who spent the last two years
diligently working on the front lines to deliver essential goods and keep our economy open and
moving. In March of 2020, DHS's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
classified truck drivers as essential to the continued viability of our nation's infrastructure
because trucking is an indispensable component of North American trade and the backbone of
America's supply chain. While in the midst of a global pandemic and supply chain crisis, we
must ensure necessary cross-border operations to bring essential goods into the U.S. are
unhindered and stabilized.
We call for you to provide employers and employees flexibility regarding the vaccine
requirement, and we look forward to working with you to reach a solution that protects our
borders, our workforce, and our supply chain. Thank you for your prompt attention to this