On November 26, President Joe Biden imposed a travel ban on eight nations in southern Africa – Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, (the Republic of) South Africa, and Zimbabwe – in response to the newly emerging Omicron variant of COVID-19. The travel ban went into effect on November 29.
Although the symptoms of the Omicron variant appear to be mild compared to other COVID-19 variants, experts “cautioned that there is too little data to draw any conclusions yet. Their bigger concern, they said, is how quickly the omicron variant, with its high number of mutations, might spread and how it will match up against vaccines.” And, according to Canadian officials, the Omicron variant has already reached North America.
Thus, to keep it from spreading further, the new travel ban is objectively a good move, in spite of criticism from such quarters as the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is worried primarily about the economic fallout for his region. Many countries throughout the world – including Israel (the first country to do so), Canada, and Japan – have implemented Omicron travel bans, much to the displeasure of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Of course, anything that gets in the way of open borders, mass migration, and globalism makes UN bureaucrats lose sleep, so Guterres’ reaction is predictable.
While the Biden administration’s travel ban is a case of even a broken clock being right twice a day, there are three additional points to remember.
To begin with, the travel ban should have gone into effect immediately for maximum effect (although, admittedly, that would have inconvenienced some travelers). Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) pointed out that “[w]hat President Biden did over the weekend is a typical half-measure that reflects the incompetence of this administration. If you want to implement a travel ban, it needs to go into effect immediately. That’s what most European nations did that implemented that travel ban.”
Secondly, it is encouraging that Team Biden is finally grasping the wisdom of travel restrictions to neutralize the spread of COVID-19. Even so, we ought to keep in mind that, during the 2020 presidential campaign, then Democratic candidate Biden harshly, unfairly, and dishonestly attacked President Trump’s COVID-19-related travel bans, claiming that they were merely a cover for racism, xenophobia, and restricting the immigration of people of color. Many on the left seem to believe that their consciences are pure and that ulterior motives allegedly hiding behind health-related travel restrictions only apply to their right-of-center opponents.
Last, but perhaps most important, is the reality that the efficacy of travel bans is seriously undermined by an unsecured southern border and historically record-breaking illegal migration. In a recent Fox News opinion piece, former Utah congressman, Jason Chaffetz, called the travel ban, along with a vaccine mandate for legal essential border crossers, “little more than political theater” because “[u]nder current Biden administration policies, migrants detained at the southern border are only being tested for COVID if they exhibit symptoms. There is no vaccine requirement for them.” Indeed, an untold number of illegal aliens with COVID-19 have entered the U.S. thanks to Joe Biden’s reckless and irresponsible border policies. In essence, Biden is closing the front door to keep the house warm during winter, but simultaneously leaving the back door wide open, thereby defeating the whole purpose of shutting the front entrance to begin with. To the average American, that surely doesn’t make much sense.