Judicial Watch sues for Biden administration's COVID-19 travel exemption records

Federal employees could apply for exemptions from the travel ban.

Judicial Watch on Thursday announced it has filed a lawsuit to obtain documents on any exemptions from President Joe Biden's COVID-19 travel mandate that federal officials and their families may have received.

Judicial Watch originally asked the U.S. State Department to provide records on travel exemptions the Biden administration issued through a Freedom of Information Act request in September. The agency has not complied with the FOIA request, so the watchdog filed a lawsuit.

Just days after inauguration, President Biden prohibited non-citizens from entering the United States if they had been to South Africa, Brazil, or most of Europe within the last 14 days. His goal was to "prevent further spread" of COVID. He expanded the presidential proclamation in April to include India as well.

Federal employees could apply for National Interest Exemptions (NIE) from the travel ban, Judicial Watch said.

"Through this FOIA request, Judicial Watch hopes to obtain information and statistics regarding the total number of NIE requests made during the public health emergency from federal and non-federal employees, as well as the number of rejections and approvals of these requests," the watchdog stated.

After Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit, Biden imposed another set of travel restrictions in November on African countries.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, "COVID restrictions have been too often ignored by government officials, and Americans have a right to know if federal employees used their positions of power to see their families when others could not."