Borders Against Viruses

March 24, 2020 Updated: March 24, 2020

Commentary

The world will defeat the coronavirus, thanks largely to border enforcement.

Just as social distancing works in your community—reducing opportunities for the virus to jump from person to person—so does social distancing work at the border.

President Donald Trump imposed social distancing against the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, weeks before it even had a name, and before it even killed one person outside China.

In January, Trump ordered a travel ban prohibiting most foreigners who were recently in China from entering the United States. Otherwise, tens of thousands per day would have flooded in directly from China, and indirectly via other countries.

Trump’s decision saved American lives. Border enforcement delayed COVID-19 outbreaks. The first known death in the United States did not occur until a month after Trump’s ban.

Against a disease that grows exponentially, time is a priceless resource. All the money in the world cannot buy time. Border enforcement can.

With weeks of extra time, consumers consolidated supplies. Producers predicted demand. Scientists studied solutions. Time gave the United States a margin-of-error, even allowing a mulligan for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when its COVID-19 testing kits failed.

Summertime heat and humidity might contain COVID-19. Drugs may stop it. Whenever that happens, no matter the casualties COVID-19 ultimately inflicts, countless more Americans would have suffered if border enforcement had not shortened the virus’s lethal window of opportunity.

Of course, border enforcement could have been stricter. More travelers could have been temperature-screened and scrutinized. Travelers from coronavirus-infected countries could have been banned sooner.

Let he who would have protected the border more aggressively cast the first stone.

Instead, many criticized border enforcement as too severe. The day before Trump banned travelers from China, bureaucrats called the policy stigmatic and discriminatory. The day Trump announced the ban, politicians accused him of xenophobia.

In Congress, one representative said it “probably doesn’t make sense” and could “create prejudices.” Another said it will “stoke racist and discriminatory responses.” Even recently, Congress was pushing a “NO BAN Act” to thwart Trump’s travel bans.

Some anti-borders politicians would sacrifice their compatriots for tokenism.

Others reversed themselves. They now follow Trump.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau banned travelers from all countries, exempting only diplomats and American workers. German Chancellor Angela Merkel banned everyone, except German citizens and workers. The European Union banned all nonessential visitors. More than 50 countries on every continent announced travel bans after Trump.

Addressing the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Ken Cuccinelli of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security described Trump’s “Citizens First” agenda of “common sense” immigration control. Cuccinelli warned COVID-19 might overwhelm an under-resourced border. He predicted Mexico’s “inevitable” outbreak by a month. Now Trump has limited non-essential travel on the U.S.–Mexico border.

Common sense requires social distancing at the border against socially-transmitted diseases.

COVID-19 is not the last of its kind. It’s not even the first. The COVID-19 virus is classified as SARS-Cov-2, named after SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome): another novel coronavirus from China that caused an intercontinental pandemic. COVID-19 is merely a sequel.

Common sense border control protects national security in other ways, too. Criminal aliens deserve deportation, not sanctuary. Immigrants should finance their own health care and living expenses rather than take advantage of taxpayer-funded welfare programs.

Common sense should control cross-border trade. Free trade is not a suicide pact. Cargo, like people, can be a disease vector. And when pandemics are “Made in China,” then emergency supplies must be “Made in U.S.A.”

Accordingly, the World Trade Organization permits any country’s “action which it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests … in time of war or other emergency in international relations.”

A global pandemic is by definition an “emergency in international relations” proving the necessity of an America First economic strategy.

We can kill pandemics. Common sense is all it takes.

Lew Jan Olowski is staff counsel at the Immigration Reform Law Institute, a public interest law firm working to defend the rights and interests of the American people from the negative effects of illegal migration.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.