INDIANAPOLIS – Local leaders are giving their thoughts on the battle over mask mandates on planes, trains, and other public transportation. This week, a judge announced the end of that emergency order, and the Justice Department plans to appeal the ruling.
The decision is the latest development in the debate on masks and various other public health measures. Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita called the ruling “a win for liberty.” He views it as a milestone for all Americans.
“…We are reclaiming our individual liberties from the stranglehold of the federal government,” Rokita said in a statement.
The order drew criticism from public health and medical experts. They say the pandemic is still a cause for concern. Dr. Brian Dixon, Director of Public Health Informatics with Regenstrief, says now is not the time to remove COVID protections.
“Now is not the time to stop the mask mandate on transportation,” Dr. Dixon said. “We’re still seeing cases increase in the U.S…. and cases increase in Europe and overseas.”
Governor Eric Holcomb says he’s following whatever the current guidelines are from the federal government. In an interview with Statehouse Reporter Kristen Eskow, he said it may be past time to update the orders while still giving Hoosiers a choice.
“If you feel like you need to wear a mask… I respect that fact,” Gov. Holcomb said. “If you invite me into your home and ask me to wear a mask during a meeting, I will.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Holcomb is joining a “strike force” of 25 other governors to combat rising illegal immigration numbers. The states will share criminal justice information, coordinate interstate patrols, and monitor drug trafficking throughout the country. The strike force is promising to prosecute drug and human trafficking incidents to the fullest extent.
It all comes as Attorney General Rokita is planning another trip to the southern border. The announcement comes less than three months after his last visit. Speaking one-on-one with IN Focus, Rokita said that the trips he’s taken “have produced results.”
“We got President Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy reinstated,” Rokita said. “Just because this is a border issues, doesn’t mean it’s just for border states. Within 48 hours of anyone illegally crossing the border, they can and they do come to Indiana.”
Rokita said that his efforts are all to combat drug crimes, largely involving fentanyl, sex trafficking, and higher crime rates. He feels that multiple trips to the border are necessary because he’s focusing on different aspects, as well as calling for more action from the Biden administration
“If governors of non-border states were actively engaged [with the Biden administration], maybe Attorneys General wouldn’t have to be the first line of defense.”
Rokita also commented on the possible rescinding of Title 42. This pandemic-era rule allows border agents to turn people away due to COVID-19 concerns. It’s also to control reported COVID outbreaks among migrants. Rokita says he can’t support a challenge to that decision, while opposing other public health policies like mask mandates and vaccine requirements. He wants to see a different approach to curb mass migration.
“There are other ways to correct that like follow the rule of law, build the wall, and return people to Mexico when they cross the border illegally,” Rokita said.
Watch more from Attorney General Todd Rokita and Governor Eric Holcomb in the video above.