Call it a lesson in sovereign borders.
President Donald Trump’s decision announced late Wednesday to ban travelers to the United States from 26 European countries in an effort to protect Americans from the coronavirus isn’t sitting well with leaders in the European Union, according to Fox News.
But Trump brushed the criticisms aside at a White House news conference.
“We get along well with the European leaders, but we had to make a decision and I didn’t want to take time, and it takes a long time to make the individual calls,” he said in the Oval Office, accompanied by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Fox reported.
He then compared the coronavirus ban to past EU decisions to impose tariffs on U.S. goods.
“But we had to move quickly, I mean when they raise taxes on us, they don’t consult us and I think that’s probably one and the same.”
Travelers from Ireland and the United Kingdom are not affected by the ban, according to Fox. It takes effect at midnight Friday (Eastern Daylight Time) and is set to last for 30 days.
In a statement criticizing Trump’s action, European Union Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said more “consultation” should have taken place.
“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” they said in the statement, according to Fox. “The European Union is taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”
Maybe not strong enough.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of Thursday, the United States had 1,215 reported cases of coronavirus infections, with 36 deaths so far.
By dismaying contrast, the European Union, according to Fox, has had 17,000 cases of coronavirus infections. According to the German data compilation company Statista, the EU has recorded 951 coronavirus deaths, with 827 of them in Italy alone.
For the European Union and its “Schengen Area,” where passports are not needed in an essentially border-free zone, the idea of banning travelers from abroad might seem foreign.
But for the United States, where the issue of border control was key to Trump’s election in 2016 – and has been a point of conflict with radical Democrats who want to open the country’s borders to anyone who wants to come in – it’s a different matter.
And that showed in many of the social media responses to coverage of the EU complaints.
The USA is a sovereign nation. ?
— Jen Robertson (@jenrobertson2o2) March 12, 2020
The open-border policy in EU has rendered EU as dangerous and out of control as the worst country, i.e., Italy, in the whole European Union.
— Echo of Conscience (@ConscienceEcho) March 12, 2020
Hey EU, ? YOU do you. Worry about Italy. Worry about your policies that contributed to your situation….Open borders and all.
— running with the right (@rungmc_) March 12, 2020
You can evaluate it all day. We need to protect the American People. Good Job #Trump2020
— claudio (@CLAUDIOREYESTEC) March 12, 2020
Of course, there are legitimate questions about whether the ban might be too late, or might not be restrictive enough to protect United States citizens and residents from a disease the World Health Organization has officially designated a “pandemic.”
But the decision itself is not hard to defend, whether the Europeans liked it or not. There’s little reason to think that “consultation” with European Union leaders would change a thing – and still more precious time might have been lost in the dithering.
The United States has sovereign borders, and the president of the United States has decided to make use of those borders in an effort to protect American citizens from infection by a globally active, potentially fatal disease.
It’s a lesson Europeans – and American liberals and Democratic politicians – might want to study.
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