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Biden grappling with immigration and travel restrictions as pandemic worsens

July 22, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.

Compression ratio: 22.7%. 2 min read.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 19: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the nation's economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the State Dining Room of the White House on July 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden also reiterated his hope that Facebook will better police vaccine misinformation on their platform. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden is facing increasing pressure from US allies and the travel industry to lift pandemic-era restrictions barring entry to the country, leading to tense conversations among administration officials over the health and political risks of opening up too soon.

(CNN)President Joe Biden is facing increasing pressure from US allies and the travel industry to lift pandemic-era restrictions barring entry to the country, leading to tense conversations among administration officials over the health and political risks of opening up too soon.

The American officials were partnered with representatives from the European Union, United Kingdom, Canada and Mexico and have met several times to discuss the reopening situation since the administration announced them at the start of Biden's first foreign trip in June.

There have also been multiple smaller group conversations in between those larger meetings to discuss specific issues, like the epidemiological situation, variants, surveillance, and vaccination efforts and plans for changing travel restrictions, a White House official told CNN.

"There are ongoing discussions between the working groups and, of course, updates and briefings with our health and medical experts about what it is safe to do," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday when asked about when the US might reopen its borders to travelers.

"It is extremely frustrating that the United States government has failed to reciprocate current family exemptions already allowed by the Canadian government and failed to show a lack of urgency to make any progress on this side of the border toward lifting restrictions," said Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins of New York, who chairs the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, in a statement Monday after Canada announced it was reopening to vaccinated Americans.

White House officials rejected the notion that hesitancy over easing restrictions was politically motivated, particularly in regard to the Trump-era public health order that immigrant advocates say has put migrants in harm's way.

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