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Viral claim gets Biden’s COVID-19 travel and immigration policies wrong

Two topics that routinely draw false claims on social media are COVID-19 and immigration at the U.S. border with Mexico.

A claim currently circulating online misrepresents the Biden administration’s actions on both issues.

A Twitter account with “trump won” in its bio posted this false claim, which has been retweeted more than 2,700 times and shared on Facebook: “The COVID Delta variant is so deadly Biden is restricting travel for Americans into Mexico but is keeping the border wide open for illegal aliens to walk right into our country.”

Neither of its major points is correct. Biden hasn’t initiated any travel restrictions for Americans going to Mexico since the Delta variant became dominant in the U.S. in July, and his administration is enforcing existing immigration laws.

As for the travel portion of the claim, the administration has recently extended restrictions on non-essential travel from Mexico into the United States at land ports of entry due to COVID-19 through Aug. 21. But the travel limits have been in effect since March 21, 2020, and they do not prevent U.S. citizens and permanent lawful residents from traveling to Mexico or returning to the United States. Also, the restrictions apply only to land and ferry border crossing, not air travel.

Although there is no restriction on Americans flying to Mexico, those who do fly there will have to provide negative COVID-19 test results before their return flight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that pandemic-related order on Jan. 12 under the previous administration, and it went into effect on Jan. 26 under Biden — so it’s not new, either.

The State Department also urges travelers to reconsider going to Mexico since the CDC has listed the country’s COVID-19 risk level as “high.” That’s the third level in the CDC’s four-tiered system.

The part of the claim asserting that the border is “wide open for illegal aliens” is also wrong. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has made hundreds of thousands of apprehensions and expulsions at the southwest border since Biden took office.

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More than 500,000 expulsions were made from February to June under Title 42, a public health law the Trump administration began using in March 2020 to expel people at the border in the name of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

During the Trump administration, from March 2020 to January 2021 there were more than 459,000 expulsions.

Many Democrats and immigrant advocates have urged Biden to rescind the policy, but it remains in effect.

So, the claim is wrong about both travel restrictions and border policy.

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Nenad Stojkovic|CC BY 2.0

The State Department also urges travelers to reconsider going to Mexico since the CDC has listed the country’s COVID-19 risk level as 'high.'