The federalist structure as weve always known it is under real strain, and the prospect of armed officers patrolling internal borders is emerging fast. If that sounds alarmist, consider that President Trump is currently considering imposing an enforceable quarantine in New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticutand that Rhode Island is currently hunting for New Yorkers who are seeking refuge from a plague-infested Gotham.
To paraphrase Southwest Airlines, you are no longer free to move about the country.
And this isnt just a northeastern project. One county in North Carolina has already set up roadblocks to keep people out. Other counties in North Carolina and Florida are reportedly planning to barricade against visitors, unless they have evidence of a home, job, or other necessity inside the county.
Texas and Maryland are also ordering people coming in from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to self-quarantine, though they haven't involved the police or the military yet. New York-area residents arent the only unwelcome visitors. Florida is also cracking down on arrivals from Louisiana, who, according to Politico, will be required to tell troopers where they plan to stay. That information will be relayed to local authorities.
The Sunshine State, it seems, isnt so sunny… for coronavirus refugees.
If [the police are] telling you to shelter in place, then do that, said Florida governor Ron DeSantis on Friday, But dont come here, because were trying to protect our folks.
Thats is eerily reminiscent of signs that popped up during the Great Depression: Jobless men keep going. We cant take care of our own.
How long before gubernatorial candidates start promising to Build! The! Wall!?
Unusual times bring out unusual responses.
In 1918's flu pandemic, the U.S. governor of American Samoa cut off all traffic with the rest of the world, and American Samoa was the only place on the planet without a recorded case of Spanish fluwhich is to say, it worked!
Which is great news unless youre seeking sanctuary. Right now, driving while New York is a real problem. If your car has New York state tags, thats probable cause. Youre going to get stopped. Never mind stopping travel from Chinaweve moved on to travel from Tribeca.
But its not just the highways and byways that are being policed for refugees. The National Guard is helping Rhode Island police conduct house-to-house searches to find people who traveled from New York and demand 14 days of self-quarantine, reports Bloomberg.
Keep in mind that this is being pushed by Rhode Islands Democratic governor, Gina Raimondo.
Right now we have a pinpointed risk, Raimondo said on Friday. That risk is called New York City.
If a caravan of Honduran immigrants were headed for Rhode Island, the states Democratic governor would probably be much less panicked, and much more hospitable.
Which raises a question: Is this even legal? According to the executive director of the Rhode Island ACLU, the answer is no. Under the Fourth Amendment, having a New York state license plate simply does not, and cannot, constitute probable cause to allow police to stop a car and interrogate the driver, no matter how laudable the goal of the stop may be.
But Raimondo says that shes consulted with lawyers and that, while she cant build a wall around the state or close the border, she can enforce a quarantine. What we know for sure is that governors can act more quickly than courts can sort out those questions.
The same goes for local authorities, too, as its conceivable that this shunning wont stop at the edge of state borders, airports and train and bus stations, but also at the edge of city limits.
Weve had anecdotal reports of people coming from the city out to second homes on the East End and Fire Island, the county executive of Suffolk County, Long Island, was quoted as saying the other day.
Suffolk is hardly the only place by a big metro to worry about this, or try to do something about it. Counties in North Carolinas Outer Banks, for instance, have tried to keep all non-residents out.
If the international Syrian refugee crisis fueled the global rise of nationalism, the international COVID-19 crisis is an accelerant, leading to more localism as states and cities learn to fend for themselvesand treat outsiders like teeming masses of foreign invaders.
For a while, there was a sense that the divide might be between red and blue states, but that seems not to be the case. This is a civil war between the sick and the well, the worried and the confident, and between big city dwellers and the places that big city dwellers like to escape to for the weekend of summer in simpler times. And it all makes for strange bedfellows.
On Tuesday, the governor of Mississippi issued an executive order superseding a patchwork of local bans on public gatherings in the state. In effect, he overruled local municipalities that were pushing stricter social distancing.
At the time, it seemed like a smart move for a Republican politician to make.
Im not so sure it will age that well.