During a White House press briefing yesterday, President Trump announced in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the southern border will close, “very soon, probably today” said Trump. One reporter asked pointedly: “On asylum seekers and people who cross the southern border illegally, are you planning to invoke [42 U.S. Code §265] which would allow you to prohibit entry of certain people across the board?” Trump responded promptly, “the answer is yes.”
Wednesday morning President Trump tweeted that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic. Trade will not be affected.” The first plan of action relating to travel President Trump took was implementing a near-total travel ban from Europe, except the United Kingdom, to the United States earlier this month.
As for our southern border, the decision-making process contained a much different feel. Trump deemed himself a “wartime president” and wrote on Twitter that “we are at war with an invisible enemy, but that enemy is no match for the spirit and resolve of the American people…”
42 U.S. Code §265 gives the Surgeon General the authority, with approval by the president, to prohibit “entry of individuals and property in the existence of any communicable disease in a foreign country.” The result means asylum seekers or anyone who attempts to enter the United States at the Mexico border will be turned away.
Last week, Trump credited his “very strong border” policies as the reason the United States did not have higher numbers of the coronavirus. He continued, “If we had weak or open borders” last week’s reported numbers “would have been higher.” This week, strong policies at the border are not enough. Now it is time to put immigration issues on the back burner and bring health concerns of the American people to the forefront by implementing U.S. legal code; 42 U.S. Code §265.