More than a dozen Republican governors are demanding President Joe Biden lift his COVID-19 vaccine mandate for foreign travelers to the United States, according to a letter obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Biden ought to end the international vaccine travel rule given his administration no longer requires masks or testing requirements for air travel, the 17 governors, led by South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, wrote to the president Wednesday.
“As COVID-19 vaccination rates remain high and hospitalization levels remain manageable, continuing your international travel vaccine mandate becomes indefensible,” the governors wrote to Biden. “The rest of the world is moving on from the COVID-19 pandemic and returning to normal. It is time for your Administration to do the same.”
The White House unveiled its vaccine mandate for non-citizen and non-immigrant travelers to the U.S. in October 2021 and implemented the policy on Nov. 8. The policy was later built upon by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which in January applied the mandate for foreigners entering through land ports and ferry terminals into the U.S.
DHS extended its vaccine mandate in April for land and ferry entry, noting the decision was made in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies. There have been 72 countries as of July that have ceased to enforce COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements for travelers, the governors say, whereas air travelers to the U.S. still must provide airlines with their contact information for contact tracing.
“This vaccine mandate for international travel is unnecessary and completely asinine given the fact that we have an open border where thousands are pouring into our country every single day unimpeded,” Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, who signed the letter, told the DCNF.
It is also contradictory Biden has not lifted the vaccine mandate given his administration’s push to rollback the CDC’s Title 42 rule, the governors say. The Trump-era public health order allows the DHS to expel illegal aliens to safeguard public health and a federal judge blocked the administration in May from lifting it.
“Why are you insisting on stringent vaccine requirements for legal temporary travelers but not for illegal immigrants who are attempting to stay in our country permanently?” the governors wrote in their letter.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment, nor did the DHS.
Governors who signed the vaccine letter also include Kay Ivey of Alabama, Brian Kemp of Georgia, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia and others.