The Biden administration hasn’t introduced COVID-19 travel restrictions on Americans going to Mexico since the delta variant became dominant in the U.S., and it is enforcing immigration laws at the border. But a meme falsely claiming the opposite is circulating online.
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.
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.
Update, Aug. 3: On Aug. 2, the CDC extended the use of the public health order under Title 42 that allows the CBP to immediately expel those trying to cross the border illegally. The CDC said it will reassess the need for the order every 60 days and confirmed that the exception for children, which it announced on July 16, remains in effect.
Editor’s note: SciCheck’s COVID-19/Vaccination Project is made possible by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation has no control over our editorial decisions, and the views expressed in our articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the foundation. The goal of the project is to increase exposure to accurate information about COVID-19 and vaccines, while decreasing the impact of misinformation.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Notification of Temporary Travel Restrictions Applicable to Land Ports of Entry and Ferries Service Between the United States and Mexico. Federalregister.gov. 22 Jul 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Order: Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test Result or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Airline Passengers Arriving into the United States. CDC.gov. Updated 19 Jul 2021.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States. CDC.gov. Updated 6 Jul 2021.
U.S. Department of State. Mexico Travel Advisory. 12 Jul 2021.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Southwest Land Border Encounters. Accessed 29 Jul 2021.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Nationwide Enforcement Encounters: Title 8 Enforcement Actions and Title 42 Expulsions. Updated 16 Jul 2021.