The Volokh Conspiracy

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Travel Ban

Stop the Covid Travel Bans

Experience shows that what little good they do is outweighed by the immensely cruel harm.


The discovery of the potentially more dangerous Omicron variant of Covid-19 last week led many nations, including the United States, to ban most entry from South Africa and several neighboring nations, where the virus was first discovered. Israel and Japan have taken the even more draconian step of banning nearly all entry by non-citizens. These measures are almost certain to fail in their goal keeping out or even significantly delaying entry of the new variant. At the same time, they will - unless quickly reversed - cause enormous suffering. The record of previous Covid travel and migration bans proves as much.

Remember how Donald Trump's travel bans on China and Europe kept the initial Covid out of the United States? How about when continued travel bans, combined with massive Title 42 border expulsions  and the most restrictive immigration policies in all of American history kept out the more contagious Alpha and Delta variants?

If you don't recall those things, it's because they didn't happen. Those policies all failed miserably, and the various Covid variants entered the US anyway. And very swiftly, too.

The record of European and Canadian travel bans is similar. Those countries, too, enacted draconian restrictions that failed to keep variants out.

But at least the travel bans delayed the spread of Covid long enough that we were far better prepared when the the variants in question did arrive. Sadly, no. Travel bans delayed it only briefly, if at all, and there is little evidence we gained much as a result.

By contrast, we do know that Covid travel bans have inflicted immense harm on millions of people around the world. They have separated numerous families, prevented loved ones from seeing each other in time of need, and cut off many thousands of people from valuable job opportunities. To the extent that many travel bans also include severe migration restrictions, they have damaged our economies and actually imperiled long-term improvements in health care, by blocking migrants who are likely to contribute to scientific and medical innovations.

Consider the example of a South African woman who is "devastated" because she will not be able to be with her daughter in the UK, as the latter undergoes major surgery. Multiply that by hundreds of thousands of similar (and worse) cases around the world, continuing for months on end, and you will begin to have some idea of the immense devastation already caused by Covid travel bans.

Defenders of travel bans can cite the example of Australia and a few other island nations, which kept Covid out for some time. But to the extent they succeeded, it was only combining it with brutally harsh restrictions on internal freedom of movement and civil liberties. And even Australia failed to stop the Delta variant. Today, Australian officials openly admit they will not be able to prevent the entry of the Omicron variant. New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet conceded that "these variants will get into the country, it is inevitable."

Officials in the United States - from President Biden on down - also admit they will not be able to keep Omicron out. The same is true in Europe.

The sad history has led many public health experts, who tend to be enthusiastic about a wide range of other Covid restrictions, to oppose the most recent round of travel bans. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, author of a leading book about the pandemic, argues that they are even likely to be counterproductive:

Former Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb took to Twitter on Friday to criticize the U.S. travel ban on eight southern African countries announced by the White House over concerns about the new omicron coronavirus variant.

Gottlieb said that "it's counterproductive in [the] short and long run to impose harsh travel restrictions on affected countries; hurting current containment efforts, discouraging future sharing."

Gottlieb further added that there's "too much we don't know to impose economically, socially ruinous policies"

"Ready, fire, aim is not prudent public health policy. Vaccine and testing requirements for incoming travelers could be prudent," he said

"Outright travel bans can hurt more than help," Gottlieb tweeted.

Gottlieb and others warn that imposing travel bans on countries that reveal new variants can create incentives to avoid sharing information, covering up the existence of a variant until after it has spread so far that its origins become difficult to trace.

In theory, governments could potentially impose very brief travel bans when a potentially dangerous new variant is detected, just long enough to do some useful research and preparation. They can then remove the ban once - as inevitably occurs - it no longer meaningfully constrains the spread of the disease. In this way, we could maximize the gains from travel bans, while minimizing the pain.

That might, perhaps, work with well-informed "benevolent despot" governments, which are immune to political pressure and always scrupulously weigh costs and benefits. But such well-informed benevolent despots are in short supply. In the real world, governments rarely have good information when a new disease or variant first emerges.

And, once instituted, travel bans and associated migration restrictions tend to remain in place for many months past the point where there is any chance they might do good. The bans instituted in response to the initial Covid crisis remained in place long after both the original virus and later variants got in and achieved "community spread" throughout Europe and North America.

Political incentives kept them in place. For some on the right, the Covid crisis was a good excuse to impose severe migration restrictions of a kind they had long advocated. On the left and center, many politicians feared to look "soft on Covid." Perpetuating border closures make it easier to send the signal that the government is taking the crisis seriously. Politicians and bureaucrats of all stripes are all too willing to inflict pain of a kind that disproportionately falls on recent immigrants, foreign workers, and their families - people with little or no political influence.

Such dynamics might be less of a problem if voters were knowledgeable about border closures and related Covid policies, and effectively punished politicians who overstep. In fact, however, widespread public ignorance inhibits such monitoring here, as it does on many other policy issues.

In sum, ideal governments could, perhaps, be trusted with the power to close borders any time a new variant or disease threat emerges. The ones we actually have - not so much.

It is tempting to say that, on travel bans and other "public health" measures, we should just defer to the scientists and other health care experts. If they say travel bans are justified, then we must assume they are. It indeed makes sense to defer to scientists within their areas of technical expertise; I've written about the value of such deference myself, including in some cases where it may bolster policy conclusions I dislike.

But the merits of  travel bans - like other severe restrictions on liberty - do not depend on technical scientific considerations alone. They also have moral, social, and economic dimensions. On these sorts of questions, scientists are not expert. Indeed they often know less than specialists in other fields. When it comes to travel bans, the latter includes people with expertise on the value of international migration and freedom of movement, and also those who have conducted research on the ways in which public ignorance may inhibit carefully calibrated "scientific" policies.

It so happens I have expertise and a record of peer-reviewed publications in both of these areas, myself. That doesn't necessarily mean I'm right. Far from it. People make mistakes within their areas of expertise all the time. But it does mean that I and others with similar backgrounds are not required to defer to public health specialists on those aspects of Covid policy that relate to our own areas of knowledge.The scientists know far more than we do on such technical questions as how deadly the new variant is and how transmissible. But their understanding of the relevant political, economic, and moral issues is likely to be far more limited.

And, in this case, it is noteworthy that many public health specialists have themselves begun to doubt the value of Covid travel bans. When people with different types of expertise begin to converge on similar conclusions, that can be a helpful (though still not infallible!) sign of where the truth lies.

In sum, the current round of travel bans should be swiftly lifted. In medium to long term, the power to impose such travel bans should either be abolished or at least tightly circumscribed. Doing this will not be easy. But it may be the only way to forestall further massively cruel harm, of the sort we have seen over the last two years.




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  1. I will just point out that the populations in America that could restrict travel have the lowest death rates. So Maine has the oldest age population but a very low death rate. The county with the Florida Keys is an old age population but it has the lowest death rate of all Florida counties. Hawaii and Puerto Rico have low death rates as well.

      1. Or just look at the states with the lowest death rates and control for initial wave (New Hampshire’s Boston suburbs) and anomalously young healthy population (Utah).

        1. Just commit statistical malpractice to go along with rhetorical malpractice? Someone call the prosecutor on Sebastian!

          1. State populations over an almost 2 year period are fine for statistical grouping purposes. Health insurance which is a huge industry uses county populations for risk groups which Covid statistics are also broken down at the county level.

            Now what Republicans do cherry picking data on June of 2020 to prove DeathSantis is doing a great job is stupid.

      2. There are meaningless correlations but there are also some quite meaningful ones that are being ignored.

        One is that every single case of the Omicron variant I've heard of happened to fully vaccinated people. In fact, the health ministry of Botswana, where Omicron first appeared, says that the four index cases were all vaccinated and all visitors from outside the country. (The vaccination rate there is less than 3%.) So it's not at all far fetched that the vaccines may be the cause of the disease, or at least that variant.

        I suggest that anyone interested in this topic join the discussion at the podcast page.

  2. This post is a refreshing dose of reality in a highly charged emotional environment. The points are correct, except politics dictates a different response than unrestricted travel. The public demands government do something, even when there is nothing government can do.

    So the government enacts travel bans to say "look, we are doing something and for almost everyone it does not cost you anything, as most of you would not be traveling anyway".

    As long as we live in a society that wants actions without costs this sort of stupidity will continue.

    1. Sidney,
      Your endorsement of Somin's baseless assertion that the travel bans will do nothing for public health are equally baseless.
      If you had made any study of transnational contagion I'd pay some attention to you. Clearly Somin has not

  3. In this case the stopped clock happens to be accurate. Mainly because there isn't any evidence that this new version of Covid is particularly fearsome. Power mad authorities are just seizing on the latest excuse to make themselves feel important by imposing on everybody.

    But a stopped clock is still a stopped clock, even if it's right twice a day.

    Ilya, it is famously said that “The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics” It would be worth it for you to remember it didn't enact Jeremy Bentham's An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, either. You may be some sort of universalist utilitarian, but that's not the principle our government was founded upon.

    "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed;"

    The governed. Not everybody on Earth. Our government must, always, operate with the aim of the welfare of its citizens in mind; The welfare of anybody else is at most a side constraint.

    In this case there is little reason to believe a travel ban would advance that welfare. If there were, however, that such a ban would be injurious to the interests of non-citizens would be irrelevant, because it is not the interests of non-citizens that justify (If indeed it can be justified.) our government. It is only our own interests.

    1. "The discovery of the potentially more dangerous Omicron variant of Covid-19 "

      Concurring with Brett -

      Early indications are that this variant is substantially less dangerous. Likewise, the Delta variant has shown to be no more / no less dangerouse than the alpha variant.

      1. " Likewise, the Delta variant has shown to be no more / no less dangerouse than the alpha variant."
        Joe, That is very very far from clear. In fact just the opposite is much more consistent with ground truth world wide.

        1. Keep dreaming.

          At least in this country, while Delta is substantially more contagious, the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has not risen since Delta pushed out the other variants through the month of July by being substantially more contagious. If anything, it is down just a small bit. The place you need to be looking is at CDC statistics, because they control differences between variants better, since the population demographics are held mostly constant.

          Virus variants compete with each other. It is very Darwinian. It turns out that variants thrive, and push out other variants, by being either more infectious, and/or less deadly. If Omicron is significantly more deadly than Delta, then it is unlikely to make much headway against that variant, since there isn’t much room left to beat it on infectivity.

          1. "At least in this country, while Delta is substantially more contagious, the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) has not risen since Delta pushed out the other variants through the month of July by being substantially more contagious."
            Bruce, you are dead wrong about that statement for the US.
            The daily CFR saw a large rise to 2% in July; about a moth later it dropped to 0.9% but quickly rose again to its present value exceeding 1.5%.

  4. Such simple binary thinking. Everyone knows they can't keep the virus out. We knew this before the first ban was in place. The intent is to slow & delay the virus to give us more time to prepare.


    2. Well there are examples that aggressive travel restrictions, and contact tracing, and quarantines can work at early stages in the spread of a viral outbreak.

      The SARS 1 virus is a classic example, only 8000 people worldwide got it, and 10% of them died. But the SARS virus has a rapid onset with a fever of 104, which means it's pretty easy to detect. SARS 2 with a large number of asymptomatic, or symptoms common to other endemic viruses made it more difficult to corral at an early stage.

      But diseases like measles can still be challenging, and really it's only widespread vaccination that can keep it in control because there's still 20 million people a year that contract it, it's highly contagious, people are contagious before symptoms appear, and symptoms don't appear for 10-12 days after exposure.

  5. Sigh... Again, Ilya vastly overstates the case.

    Travel bans can work and can work effectively, so long as they are enforced and enforced well. One example of this is New Zealand. They had a pretty good travel ban going, and a population of 5 million....comparable to Alabama.

    New Zealand has had a total of 11,000 COVID cases, and 43 deaths
    Alabama has had a total of 845,000 COVID cases and 16,000 plus deaths.

    That difference, the 16,000 excess deaths that New Zealand saved is almost entirely due to the travel ban and quarantine measures it put in place.

    1. "so long as they are enforced and enforced well"

      You overstate your case too. NZ is an isolated island group at the end of the world. It can enforce its travel ban without to much trouble, the US at the center of the world's economy cannot.

      1. Why can't the US enforce such a travel ban? Because it's "too much trouble"?

        It's not that the US couldn't enforce such a travel ban. It's that it won't. It lacks the political will. 845,000 deaths....that's the cost of Ilya's policies

        1. Well, 28 months ago, we couldn’t enforce travel bans because they were racist.

        2. The biggest reason the US can't go with a fortress US policy like New Zealand and Australia went with is because we have too many US citizens and LPR's that are traveling abroad at any one time.

          I for one am quite happy that the US is unwilling to strand it's citizens abroad like Australia and New Zealand did. I was in Asia when the Pandemic hit and with all the flight cancellations it was difficult enough to get back without a complete ban.

          1. "we have too many US citizens and LPR's that are traveling abroad at any one time."

            Are there though? When you compare the relative populations?

            The US has a far larger population than New Zealand, and a corresponding far higher capability to institute proper strict quarantine measures on returning citizens. There are roughly 9 million US citizens living abroad, while 1 million New Zealanders live abroad. But the US population is 330 million, the New Zealand population is just ~5 million.

            The US could've locked the borders, while putting the proper, strict, quarantine measures in for US citizens returning home. Any greater numbers were more than outweighed by greater capabilities.

            1. It's the same with the length of our borders. People make a big deal of our having 2,000 miles of border with Mexico, claiming that it's impossible for us to defend, and never divide by population. (It's 3/8" per person.)

              We could impose an effective travel ban, with rigorous quarantine measures for returning citizens. The only reason we can't is people like Somin himself, who won't permit it.

              In this case I don't think it's necessary, Covid continues it's evolution towards the 'common cold' evolutionary sweet spot four prior Corona viruses have reached, highly contagious and mild symptoms. Mild symptoms are a evolutionary advantage for Corona virus, it prevents the contagious from self-isolating.

              1. At this point, it's probably too late for an effective quarantine strategy, I'd agree. Some modest measures may limit the initial spread of new variants.

              2. "Covid continues it's evolution towards the 'common cold' evolutionary sweet spot"
                Brett you are being overly optimistic about how quickly that evolutionary road can be traveled. Moreover, the happy endpoint is never guaranteed and is not independent of the strategies that the host organism employs to confront the infection

        3. Most official Covid death counts to date are completely bogus -- both because the PCR test has a huge rate of false positives, and because most governments including ours have given large financial incentives to hospitals to (1) record anyone who comes in for any reason and tests positive for Covid as a Covid case, and (2) record anyone who dies for any reason and tests positive for Covid as a death caused by Covid. (While concealing where it happened if that fact would embarrass a VIP, as with Cuomo's victims at nursing homes.)

    2. They had a pretty good travel ban going

      I take it you used the past tense deliberately. About 2/3 of NZ's cases and about 40% of its deaths occurred in the past 3 months -- with an almost blanket ban and a 14-day quarantine period for the exceptions.

      The genie is out of the bottle, and the "isolation w3rks, d00d" meme is over. Hopefully they can stop treating their citizens like caged pets and recover some semblance of their economy now that reality has set in.

      1. "About 2/3 of NZ's cases and about 40% of its deaths occurred in the past 3 months"

        And? Look at the absolute numbers in those 3 months. 40% of its 43 deaths? That's what, 17, 18 deaths?
        Compared to Alabama in the same time frame (similar population), which averaged more deaths in a single day, for each and every day over those 3 months.

        Is it a "perfect" quarantine? No. Did it reduce cases by 99% and deaths by more than 99%? Yes.

        1. Did it reduce cases by 99% and deaths by more than 99%? Yes.

          Reduce? Or simply defer? Again, most of their cases and deaths happened in the last few months of this two-year circus, so the end of the story has yet to be written. Same story in Oz. They got away with "slow the spread" much longer due to being surrounded by an unswimmable puddle, but like Poe's Red Death it was just a matter of time.

          1. They also bought time to get people vaccinated. Their infection and death counts are moving upwards, but only time will tell whether they will approach US levels.

        2. Yeah, well I can see temporary restrictions while the medical system gains knowledge on how to treat the virus, but New Zealand and Australia have taken things to where the cure is worse than the disease.

          I'm not against governments enforcing laws to restrict movements of unvetted illegal aliens, but I'm totally against giving them unfettered extralegal power over their own citizens internal movements.

          1. Like I said: Power mad authorities are just seizing on the latest excuse to make themselves feel important by imposing on everybody.

            A month ago Politifact was assuring everybody that Australia wasn't setting up Covid concentration camps, that the isolation camps were just for travelers. A few days ago the Australian army started rounding people who test positive up and shipping them off to the camps. But only aborigines, so far.

            1. Racism on the march again!

    3. So, we are allowing illegals carrying the COVID-19 virus to flood over our borders, unchecked. And precisely what good would a travel ban do, when our borders are as leaky as they are?

      The other thing to keep in mind is that Omicron (ο) is statistically highly unlikely to push out Delta (Δ) in this country. To do so, it would have to be significantly more infectious (higher R0) and probably less deadly (lower CFR). And the Delta infectivity (R0 double that of the ancestral strain) is high enough that it will take quite a bit to overcome its lead (>99% of all new US cases last week in this country). To beat out Delta, Omicron has to have an edge - what is it?

      1. Obviously any travel ban would have to extended to a strict illegal immigration policy, strictly enforced.

      2. The biggest concern over the omicron variant is immune escape: That it can more easily infect people with immunity (either convalescent or vaccine-derived) to the earlier strains. That would translate to a higher Re (or Rt), not a higher R0, and the former is the one that matters in practice.

        Of course, there are some "mights" and "maybes" embedded in the concern, but people who are very worried about the existing variants are likely to extend that worry to the omicron variant.

        1. Mind, if it can infect, but enough immunity remains to render the infection relatively minor, it's not such a big deal.

          There's enough similarity between Covid 19 and the coronavirus 'common cold' strains, that having recently had one of those was associated with only having a mild case of Covid 19. That's why, early on, I advocated offering people a cocktail of Coronavirus colds as a preventative measure. It wouldn't have prevented many people from actually getting infected, but it would have saved a huge number of lives. Still would, for that matter.

          In fact, if Covid Decepticon is mild enough, any effort to prevent its spread is probably counter-productive, since it will just increase the general population resistance to Covid, and subsequent strains. "IF", mind you.

          And that really is our most likely road out of this: Just building up enough general population resistance to Covid that it ceases to be a big deal anymore. Either that, or we need to update mRNA vaccines on a weekly basis.

  6. Concur - NZ is a terrible comparison - isolated island country with substantial ability to restrict incoming travel vs the state of alabama with zero ability to restrict incoming travel

    1. I used Alabama to keep the population comparison equal. The true comparison is the US. The US has substantial ability to restrict incoming travel. The only real issue won't.

      Instead we see illegal immigrants cross the border without COVID testing, without quarantining, and then flown on midnight flights around the US to major population centers. It's hard to think of a better way for the Administration to spread COVID and the new variants around.

      1. And who is controlling our cross border illegal immigrant flow right now?

        1. Biden and his administration are essentially encouraging it. They have other priorities that border control

        2. We still have USCIS, despite what the right might think.

          1. Yes, we have them. They're not allowed to actually do their job, but we have them.

            1. It's worse than that. They're flying illegal immigrants to other areas of the US and releasing them there.

              1. Well, the Democrats know they're going to lose the midterms, and probably the 2024 Presidential election, too. So they're trying to advance their program of forced demographic change as fast as possible until then, counting on it being impossible to reverse.

                As part of that, they're releasing the illegals where they need them most.

                The Democratic party has long been willing to take a one or two election cycle hit in order to achieve irreversible gains. That's one of the conspicuous differences between the parties.

              2. AL, they're not releasing them.
                Don't post lies.

                Brett, the Great Replacement is white supremacy garbage. It is not a thing Democrats are doing. You have no evidence of this nefarious plan. And you fell for AL's lie here because it agrees with your narrative.
                Latinos don't even vote reliably Dem, you yutz.

                1. They are releasing them...It's not a lie.

                  "CBP in the Rio Grande Valley is placing illegal aliens that have just arrived on ICE aircraft, keeping them in CBP custody, and shipping them to other cities still in CBP custody – and then being processed by ERO personnel who are being detailed and not doing their interior law enforcement duties," Feeley said. "And then those illegal aliens are being released into the United States."


                  1. Pro-Trump immigration officer now outside of the org saying it's totally going on is not proof, chief.

                    1. Gaslightro returns!

                      Who you gonna believe? Anonymous internet protester? Or an ICE official who resigned in mid 2021 because he objected to Biden's policies of catch and release (Because CURRENT ICE officials can't comment).

                      Here's just one case

                      "“I had a case who the guy was a convicted arsonist and they called me and said, ‘Hey, Mr. Feeley. One of our criteria is if the guy hasn’t been arrested in the past 10 years we need to let them go and we’d like you to release them.’ And I said, ‘I totally get what you’re saying, but … he’s been in prison for 12 years. That’s why he hasn’t been arrested.’ And the answer I got was, ‘We don’t really care​.​’ … And I had to cut him loose​,” said Feeley, adding that he has email evidence to back up his accusations. "


                    2. A guy with an axe to grind you can find screaming over and over again in the media about how ICE needs to be unshackled during the Obama admin?

                      Yeah, big straight shooter here.

                      You need better proof than one yahoo who would not even have access to what he says he knows, chief.

                    3. Also, NY Post and FOX News? I'm clicking through to not ad hominem, but your media diet is pretty unbalanced.

                      I mean, already made you look like a fool with their 'migrants' slight of hand below. Refugees and asylum seekers are held pending evaluation, but the rules are pretty different for them compared to illegals. And yet they let you assume. Some might seek other sources for info.

                    4. Oh, Gaslightro....

                      It was literally going on, while he was there, under Biden's administration. It's part of the reason he left (and can now talk about it). But now, for some reason, despite literal testimony from one of the people there..."its all lies".

                      Gaslight some more. You're so broken.

                    5. Whistle blowers generally need to bring docs. That this guy is complaining to FOX News, and has a cause to make immigration enforcement more robust, and *he is the one guy* is a tell.

                      Don't be such a gull.

                      It's not gaslighting, it's media literacy 101.

                2. AL, they're not releasing them.

                  Yes, they are.

                  Don't post lies.

                  LOL! Captain Hypocrisy strikes again.

                  Brett, the Great Replacement is white supremacy garbage. It is not a thing Democrats are doing. You have no evidence of this nefarious plan.

                  It's also not something anyone was claiming...except in your straw man version of usual.

                  And you fell for AL's lie here because it agrees with your narrative.

                  Except that he's not the one lying here. You are...again, as usual.

                  Latinos don't even vote reliably Dem, you yutz.

                  Wow. You're such a racist that you don't even differentiate between the different cultures that make up the group you're calling "Latinos", which include those like Cuban immigrants and their descendants, who tend to be more conservative than other members of that broad group. This is doubly funny when one considers your fondness for wagging your virtual finger at others for painting with an overly broad brush.

                  But even if we do accept your lumping of all of them into a single group the fact is that they OVERWHELMINGLY register and vote Dem vs Rep. "Reliably" is irrelevant when it comes to the calculus of which party benefits from increasing their numbers in the U.S.

                  1. +1 on all counts. Sarcastro has his pants on fire this time.

                    1. Indeed. Gaslightro strikes again.

                  2. "Gaslightro "
                    I see that the Armchair cannot resist schoolyard name-calling

            2. Dude, they publish the data about border pickups and deportations. You can look it up!

              1. But do they publish the number they release in Chicago after flying them up from the southern border?

                "Fox News asked ICE about the influx and release of migrants from its Chicago Field Office, which appears to receive frequent flights from the border via Chicago Gary International Airport. The agency wouldn't provide the specific numbers as requested but confirmed that migrants are being released from the field office's detention facilities. "


                Looks like a no.

                1. See how they used the term 'migrants?' That means it's not illegals, they're talking about refugees and asylum seekers.

                  FOX News deceived you, and you didn't have the critical thinking to check.

                  1. Gaslightro strikes a third time!

                    No facts, no links, nothing. Just "You're lying because Gaslightro says so!" No amount of facts, links or anything will convince Gaslightro to stop Gaslighting.

                    1. If they said illegals, why didn't they say illegals? Because that isn't what they are.

                      Here's a link:

                2. See how they used the term 'migrants?' That means it's not illegals

                  Why would ICE be holding legal migrants (which is required in order for them to have been "released") in one of its field offices? And if that's not enough of a clue, they're also explicitly referred to as "illegal aliens" multiple times in the same piece.

  7. The important thing is that when Trump ordered a ban on travel from China it was not only ineffective, it was inherently racist. But when Biden orders a ban on travel from African countries it might be equally ineffective, but at least it isn't racist, because...reasons.

  8. Another case of Ilya's ideology getting in the way of any attempt at understanding anything.

    But certainly Biden's travel ban is racist and based only on fear of what comes out of Africa.

  9. "These measures are almost certain to fail in their goal keeping out or even significantly delaying entry of the new variant. "
    Ilya's pronouncement based on no expertise whatsoever

    1. Well, he may not have expertise, but like the rest of us, he does have the benefit of two years of travel bans, lockdowns, and "two weeks to flatten the curve" to see how ineffective these policies are.

      If the US were an island with strict immigration and border control at the best of times, then we might be able to make it work... but considering we "can't" keep out a couple million illegals, this is just Somin's Broken Clock moment.

      1. Well, he has not looked at patterns of infections between countries that do and don't have noticeable exchanges of populations. Some have. Correlations can exceed 80% in countries in Shengen or between Iraq and Turkey or Iraq and Iran, where the border is relatively open. Comparing Israel and Iran with very minimal cross border traffic, correlations are at the <5% level. In fact consistent with zero.
        In conclusion sometimes these policies do work at suppressing new waves of variants to the level that they are out-competed by strains like delta. That has been the case with Lambda and Mu in South America.
        As for your last point, yes, it is Somin's broken clock moment

        1. 1) Schengen.
          2) Iran and Israel don't share a border.

          1. Thanks for catching the spelling mistake.
            Otherwise you caught nothing but cold.
            That Israel and Iran don't share border is obvious to everyone, more importantly there is essentially no travel from one to the other except for Mossad agents.
            By the way one sees little correlation between Iran and Afghanistan which share a long border well patrolled border

            1. 1) You're welcome.

              2) Seems odd to use the phrase "cross border" when there is no common border, and when every other example you gave share a common border.

              3) When there's no common border, one would expect the correlation to be lower, than when there is a common border. Just in general. There are exceptions.

              1. It is not strange to use "cross border." one does that every time one goes from one country to another no matter how separated in distance.
                As for your #3. it may be what you expect but your comment is irrelevant. How do you explain Russia-Finland or US-Mexico?

            2. That Israel and Iran don't share border is obvious to everyone

              Apparently it wasn't so obvious to whomever wrote this:

              "Comparing Israel and Iran with very minimal cross border traffic..."

              1. You would have like to have the example of Finland and Russia better.
                Moreover, countries don't have to share borders to have significant transnational contact for the purpose of spreading disease.

                1. You would have like to have the example of Finland and Russia better.

                  No, I would like it better if more commenters had at least some regard for honesty and enough intestinal fortitude to just acknowledge when they're wrong, qualities you clearly lack.

                  Moreover, countries don't have to share borders to have significant transnational contact for the purpose of spreading disease.

                  No, but the DO have to share a border in order to have any amount of "cross border traffic" between them.

                  1. The entire context makes it sound like Iran and Israel share a border.

                    "Correlations can exceed 80% in countries in Shengen or between Iraq and Turkey or Iraq and Iran, where the border is relatively open. Comparing Israel and Iran with very minimal cross border traffic"

                    Again, comparing the Schengen area (which have common borders) with Iraq and Turkey (which share a border) and Iraq and Iran (Which also share a border), then also talking about the "border" being relatively open (again, implying the direct border), then talking about the "cross border" traffic between Iran and Israel.

                    Just asking google to define "Cross Border" yields "passing, occurring, or performed across a border between two countries.
                    "cross-border trade""

                    1. Look Armchair, make a global substitute with transnational, but any time you move from one country to another you are crossing a border. I don't care what you find on Google. Try a bit of reasoning rather than looking for an irrelevant criticism

                  2. Wuz,
                    You comment shows that you are merely a troll, that is dishonesty, pure and simple. I was not wrong originally and I am not wrong now.
                    I guess you do not understand the statement of crossing borders.
                    Be honest and say so rather than accusing others of dishonesty.
                    You like transnational better then good for you. Maybe something is sinking into your head.

  10. "It so happens I have expertise ... on the value of international migration and freedom of movement"
    So he does not have to defer to public health experts about disease spread, even though his self-proclaimed expertise has nothing to do with contagion and epidemiology.
    A bit of humility would help your credibilty, Ilya

    1. Why would anyone defer to public health bureaucrats? They are bureaucrats, with the normal reward system of bureaucrats - never let opportunities to grow and empower the bureaucracy go to waste.

      1. I do think at one point Fauci had the right intentions, but he's grown to be a power hungry Nazi just like every other bureaucrat.

        1. I think his behavior handling AIDS in the 1980s rather thoroughly debunks that.

  11. Whether you are correct concerning this issue seems irrelevant, Prof. Somin, in an America whose elected officials relatively recently arranged (and many of whose citizens tolerate or applaud) the torture of innocents, endless detention without trial, and the unrelenting moral depravity of current country music.

    Perhaps after a few decades of additional national improvement your sentiments might become more relevant.

  12. I don't think this situation is comparable to that early in the pandemic.

    I also don't think we know enough about this new variant to be sure what the right policy is.

    So it makes sense to me to defer to the people to whom we delegated the job of making these calls on scanty data.

    That being said, there are some inconsistencies in this policy that I do think it's fair to take issue with, i.e. returning US persons not having a quarantine order.

    1. A pretty good encapsulation of the issue. I have noted that many of the medical authorities are asking for a few weeks to assess the new variant. I am willing to allow them that time but I think Ilya Somin has good points and we should not allow the ban much longer than that. Say 30 days and then require some action.

  13. I'm getting tired of the COVID fear mongering, but I also don't care whatsoever about the supposed "cruelty" in restricting travel from third world shitholes. Why do we want to let these people travel here under the best of circumstances?

    1. "Why do we want to let these people travel here under the best of circumstances?"

      Ilya has written quite extensively on that question -- you might want to spend some time with the archives to understand his answer to it.

      Mind you, a lot of commenters disagree with Ilya's answer, and believe the answer should be along the lines of "we don't want that".

      1. Yeah, Ilya takes the position that any third worlder is good, no matter how much evidence is presented to the contrary.

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