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Sonoran Governor Asks Mexican ‘Paisanos’ In The U.S. Not To Visit This Year

Sonoran Governor Claudia Pavlovich
Claudia Pavlovich
stock | contributor
Claudia Pavlovich

Every December, hundreds of thousands of Mexican nationals living in the United States head south of the border to visit family over the holidays. But officials in neighboring Sonora are urging them not to come this year amid the pandemic.

Sonoran Gov. Claudia Pavlovich asked these travelers, known as "paisanos," to protect themselves and their families by cancelling customary holiday visits as coronavirus cases surge on both sides of the border.

"The Paisano Program should be informative and preventative, not an invitation for people to visit us, as it always has been," she said during a health council meeting Thursday. "Unfortunately, right now we can’t be irresponsible and invite our countrymen to visit us. On the contrary, we have to warn them about what could happen, and that their families in the municipalities where they are from could end up becoming infected."

She added that Sonoran officials are currently working on protocols for checkpoints that would attend to paisanos and attempt to dissuade them from traveling into the state.

It’s unclear if restrictions on nonessential travel at the U.S.-Mexico border will impact paisanos' visits this year. While the restrictions remain in place until at least Dec. 21, they have done little to prevent U.S. citizens and permanent residents from crossing the border.

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and testing positivity rates in Sonora are all reaching levels similar to the worst days of the summer.

Kendal Blust was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2018 to 2023.