One of the most difficult aspects of planning travel during the pandemic is the ever-changing landscape of rules and regulations. This is one of the reasons I have not planned any international travel for the near future, even to the handful of places that are still open to Americans.
Now it looks like there may be a new development to worry about. The Trump administration has circulated a draft memo to federal agencies regarding blocking U.S. citizens and permanent residents of the United States from reentering the country due to COVID-19 concerns.
Restricted Entry for Infected or Potentially Infected Individuals
The memo states that if an immigration official “reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with [COVID-19],” they can restrict their reentry into the U.S. This is significant, as U.S. citizens would need to quarantined and recover abroad.
The policy would affect all U.S. ports of entry, including land border crossings, including the busy border with Mexico.
Let me be clear: this is not yet policy. However, the internal memo indicates that this could potentially become policy, should the agencies move forward to implement it.
At first blush, this seems impossible to implement. What if the sending country does not want the infected individual to return and bars them from reentering? Would the person get stuck at the airport? These are just a couple of the questions that this potential policy raises.
Can the U.S. bar its own citizens from returning? Quoting Forbes: “Legal experts have been quick to question the legality of blocking U.S. citizens from returning to their own country.”
Ultimately, this makes me a bit more cautious about booking international travel in the near future. I don’t honestly expect this policy to be rolled out. But I don’t want to rule it out completely. It may throw yet another wrench in the travel landscape.
What do you think of the potential restriction on U.S. citizens being barred from returning due to COVID concerns?
Dubious legality aside, this is an ill-considered policy. Among the poorly considered aspects are that there’s no scientific basis being used, only feelings. Feelings are great for dates and family reunions but don’t belong in the decision making process for entry into the US. Add in an utter lack of options such as quarantine a la Australia (minus guard shenanigans) and the problem gets bigger. What to do if someone asks for immediate medical attention? In short, this is like a desperation idea from a third grader that doesn’t consider even the most basic repercussions. Bad idea.
U.S. handling of anything coronavirus seems to be at the first grade level.
Agreed. Too many unknowns, and the potential eventuality someone gets stuck “between countries” with no access to medical facilities.
They know many of the people traveling at this time are likely immigrants (whether they have citizenship or LPR status). This is just another way to keep them out. From a public health perspective it’s completely useless.
Agreed. It’s misguided at best. Discriminatory at worst.