Last year, former President Donald Trump’s travel ban to China was met with critical backlash over being “xenophobic” and “racist” at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, President Joe Biden is taking a strategy right out of Trump’s playbook and upgraded a travel advisory for India to an outright ban over a surge in COVID-19 cases. Even though Joe Biden tweeted in March 2020 that banning travel would “not stop” the spread of COVID-19, he has flip-flopped on things he’s said. Once again.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki recently announced the public health emergency and that the travel ban from India to the U.S will come on top of the international travel restrictions already in place. India currently accounts for over one-third of new global cases and now has the second-highest case count behind the United States, with more than 18.7 million confirmed infections. The travel ban will require people to have a negative test result before coming to the United States, but will not apply to current U.S citizens.
“On the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Administration will restrict travel from India starting immediately. The policy will be implemented in light of extraordinarily high COVID-19 caseloads and multiple variants circulating in India. The policy will take effect on Tuesday, May 4,” Psaki said.
Critics went after President Biden for banning travel coming from India after he criticized Trump for banning travel from China. “We are in the midst of a crisis with the coronavirus. We need to lead the way with science — not Donald Trump’s record of hysteria, xenophobia, and fear-mongering. He is the worst possible person to lead our country through a global health emergency,” Biden tweeted the day following the travel ban move by the Trump Administration.
— American Conservatives (@AmConservatives) April 30, 2021
Joe Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfeld, later shared that he supported the travel ban and did not specifically mention opposing any travel restrictions in his tweet. But Biden has called Trump and the travel ban ‘similar names’ in the past and has suggested that he opposed the travel restrictions placed on China.
When Biden took office in January, he issued a similar ban on non-U.S citizens entering the country who’ve recently been in South Africa, as well as Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and 26 countries in Europe that allow travel across open borders. The policy states that most non-U.S citizens who’ve been in one of those stated countries within the last 14 days are not eligible to travel to the United States. While the Indian Embassy in Washington has not immediately commented, the decision imposed is only one of Biden’s latest travel restrictions.
U.S airlines and travel groups have continually urged the White House to loosen COVID-19 related restrictions on travel, pointing out that international air travel remains 60% down from pre-COVID-19 levels. U.S domestic air travel is down 40%.
President Biden’s shift on travel bans is really quite mind-boggling, especially since he’s not being treated as ruthlessly as former President Trump for doing the exact same thing last year.
Meanwhile, he’s treating the south of the U.S like it is open borders and allowing a surge of migrants into the country without being tested for COVID-19. The actual infection rates are probably higher than in India. Now President Biden needs to follow Trump’s lead on the crisis at the border and clean up what he’s caused there.