The Information Age, for all its wonders in the vast and instant access to any topic imaginable, is really quite a paradox. Accessible information should ideally lead to greater knowledge and understanding. Yet information is not always true or accurate, causing confusion and misleading recipients. Journalists and news organizations, therefore, bear a duty to their readers to investigate and verify information before publishing.
Vetting information should be relatively easy in some cases. So why do today’s media authors insist on being parrot-like mouthpieces instead of ethical, investigative journalists? Why do they not dig anymore? Why not question and confirm or correct information before publishing articles that get viewed by the masses, creating perceptions with a reckless disregard for the truth?
Forbes, TravelPulse, Sky Sports, and Express Daily, among other outlets, reported on March 30 that the United States has voted to end its restrictions against unvaccinated foreign travelers. Some of these articles quote Geoff Freeman, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, following a statement published on the organization’s website that appears to have since been deleted. In the quotes, Freeman praised the Senate’s passage of H.J. Res. 7, a bill terminating the national COVID-19 emergency declaration in the United States, suggesting that this bill removed the travel vaccine mandate for visitors to the United States.
Had any of these authors or their editors read the text of the bill, they would have at least questioned the accuracy of U.S. Travel’s official commentary that the bill has any effect on the international travel ban. Instead, each news outlet, in rapid succession, published similar, misleading articles. Quintessential irresponsible journalism—erroneous reporting compounded with a “whisper down the lane” effect that because information has been reported, and then reported by multiple sources, it is now true albeit a gross misrepresentation of the facts.
The truth is that the United States has not lifted the travel ban. It is still in place without expiration, and will only be terminated by President Joe Biden upon recommendation by the secretary of health and human services (HHS). Hope in that respect is grim for both citizens and noncitizens harmed and kept apart from loved ones by the restriction.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra testified before the House of Representatives on March 28 that “the actions that our administration is taking with regard to American citizens is to protect them as best possible against COVID.”
“The actions we take with regard to those trying to enter the country are somewhat similar, but there are some differences because these are folks who are asking for permission to come into the U.S.,” he said.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.) asked if the decision to not lift vaccine mandates was political, to which Becerra responded that the mandates, including the travel restrictions, are “based on science and the evidence.”
While testifying, Becerra—a lawyer—was oblivious to statements made by his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky. Walensky told the public in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “vaccines are no longer effective at preventing disease.”
The CDC also updated its guidance to “no longer differentiate based on a person’s vaccination status because breakthrough infections occur …” as of Aug. 19, 2022. However, the CDC has not yet removed the Amended Order banning unvaccinated travelers. In their official comment regarding the travel restrictions, the CDC responded that the order is simply an implementation of Biden’s Proclamation 10294, and the agency defers status updates to the White House.
Given Becerra’s recent testimony, it is apparent that he is also unaware that the global scientists in the World Health Organization have recommended since July 2021 that governments not require international travelers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 for entry.
He further testified that he does not have the authority to issue “waivers” of the vaccine requirement for foreign travelers, which begs the question: Does Becerra know that he is responsible for advising Biden to terminate the travel restriction? If he followed the science and the evidence, as he testified that his department does, then he should have advised Biden to end Proclamation 10294 in the summer of 2022.
Alas, the only measures before Congress that would legislate an end to the COVID-19 travel restrictions have been stalled in the Senate. As of March 30, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has twice asked his colleagues to unanimously consent to pass H.R. 185, a bill offered by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) that passed the House in February to terminate the CDC Amended Order requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for air passengers. Both calls for consent were quashed by objections.
Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) objected, believing that Congress should not set precedent by ending any programs of Biden’s public health emergency before the administration was ready. At Lee’s second request for unanimous consent, Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) stood and objected for then-absent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Although not all of the reasons for Sanders’ objections were read into the record, the “most compelling” objection, per Booker, was that COVID-19 originated outside of the United States and “many health professionals” believe that keeping unvaccinated noncitizens out will curb the spread of the disease and future variants.
Now that the objections have stalled any legislative action on H.R. 185, the Senate may need to hold a roll call vote to pass the bill and send it to Biden, who has not promised to veto. Such a vote is not expected prior to April 17, as Senators will be out of D.C. for state work.
Certain media outlets have also mistakenly published that the COVID travel restrictions are due to end on April 10. No doubt, their assumption comes from the Transportation Security Administration Security Directive, which orders airlines to comply with Proclamation 10294. Unfortunately, the agency renews this directive so long as Proclamation 10294 remains in place.
It cannot be said enough that Proclamation 10294 and the CDC Amended Order implementing Biden’s policy have no expiration date. Indeed, the White House only promised that the restriction would “be reviewed” prior to the anticipated May 11 end to the COVID-19 public health emergency—there is no offered end date.
Further, the proclamation is based on the National Immigration Act. Although the national COVID-19 emergency spawned the development of this now-defunct policy, the legal authority rationalizing it will remain well beyond the termination of any emergency, allowing the policy itself to be enforced until removed.
An official from the White House advised that ending the national COVID-19 emergency does not end the travel restrictions and that those restrictions remain in effect at this time under Proclamation 10294 and the CDC’s Amended Order. The official did not provide an anticipated end date when asked.
To make this abundantly clear for the public: Presidential Proclamation 10294 requiring noncitizen nonimmigrants be vaccinated to enter the United States will only end if Biden rescinds it, Congress repeals it, or the judiciary strikes it down. To date, no lawsuits have been filed challenging the ban on foreign visitors.
From the Brownstone Institute
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.