Visas: The Ebola Elephant in the Room

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While CNN books guests to discuss the minutia of whether latex, nitrile rubber or vinyl and neoprene gloves are best when treating Ebola patients (Erin Burnett October 13) the broader issue of whether West African travel visas should be stopped is dismissed as a pure hypothetical extreme.  And while CDC Director Thomas Frieden suggests that he needs to “rethink Ebola protocol” he refuses to consider travel restrictions, despite a new Washington Post-ABC News poll showing 67% of the public support such a ban.

In addition to the American public — usually leading the common sense curve — a growing number of lawmakers are urging immediate restrictions including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) and notably, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas).

The number of U.S. visitor visas granted to the Ebola-stricken countries has been rising sharply at the same time the disease is multiplying at exponential rates, representing a volatile combination that merits visa restrictions.  In 2013, the U.S. issued 3,500 visas to Liberians — a country with more than half of the 8,914 reported cases — and 13,000 visas total between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. This week, the World Health Organization has released dire news, upping the fatality estimate from 50 percent to 70 percent and estimating there will be 10,000 new cases of Ebola in West Africa by December of this year.

Why no action?  One clue might be hidden in the CDC director’s recent statement that, “sealing the border simply creates public distrust.” 

Mr. Director, no one is talking about “sealing the border” in the context of this current crisis.    

Americans simply want to limit the spread of a deadly disease and put in place a limited travel ban from high-risk areas only.  Why the hyperbole?  Perhaps the Obama administration is not letting a crisis go to waste, once again. Refusing to consider common sense restrictions to those who may be inadmissible is a way to avoid contradicting the utopia they tell us is open borders.  After all, for the Obama administration it’s just fine that 12 million illegal aliens reside in the U.S without having had health care screening.  Why worry about 3,500 from Liberia? 

In 1964, President Kennedy observed, “there is, of course, a legitimate argument for some limitation upon immigration.”  Serving the public interest during a potential health crisis by imposing modest travel bans is a very legitimate argument. More importantly it’s a core responsibility of government.

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About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

12 Comments

  1. avatar

    Can someone tell me why the US needs to accept ANY “visitors” from West Africa? Exactly how many of these “visitors” ever go home?

    320 million people and counting; automation in the future eliminating millions of jobs; scarce water resources; a crumbling infrastructure; and a people not united by language, culture, history, or national origin. Yeah, this is going to work out great. Let’s all just shout, “U.S.A. USA. USA!” invade another country somewhere, and everything will be fine.

  2. avatar

    I still think the problem is that the elections are coming up and the government does not want to have the racist card thrown at them for stopping blacks in Africa from coming into America and at the same time letting illegals into the country. They are more worried about their votes than the safety of America. That’s why they are keeping information from us until after the election. Such as Holders replacement. Obama said he is not saying who it is until after the elections. WHY? So as not to hurt the democrats chances at being re-elected or elected. Same with withholding their stand on illegal immigration. They are afraid of hurting their chances at being elected because of stopping blacks from coming into America. They want the black vote.

  3. avatar

    Obama’s speech yesterday that a travel ban would cause more problems, that someone would just go to the next country over and fly here anyway is ridiculous. It may happen but wouldn’t the person still be traceable by their travel visa?
    Why not limit those countries and the surrounding ones, and visas from anyone from those countries. If a airline taking off from London tries to land here with a Liberian aboard do not allow it to land, or allow refueling. Canada and Mexico should also impose same restrictions.
    Medical personnel could travel by military flights and be forced to a 30 day minimum waiting period.
    This is reasonable considering the consequences.
    I am bewildered beyond belief that 95% of over 100 Africans daily are screened. What about the other 5%? Do the math, after a month that’s over 100 allowed in with no screening.
    I also believe the recent respiratory virus that has killed children and hospitalized thousands was brought here by the recent central America surge. That virus was all but non existent here until now. Flying and bussing illegals all over the country is insane.
    Time for major changes to our immigration policy before its too late.

  4. avatar

    What an idiot. Sealing the border would not “create distrust”, leaving it wide open is creating mistrust and FEAR, ANGER, ANXIETY ETC. because it looks a lot like death and destruction for the hard working Americans that actually are forced to support these dregs all over the world and then have to have their sick butts right here in our community. We are PAYING for our own demise.

    Every time I hear the “12 million” number that Leland quotes, I want to scream. Talk about creating mistrust. Is there anybody who believes that number? There are far more than that. Just this year we have gotten another half million or more.

    The other problem is this so-called “health screening”. All that means is that we have to screen them AND THEN PAY FOR THEIR TREATMENT. They don’t go back even if they have uncurable communicable diseases.

    • avatar

      The “12 million” number is from 2002. Since then, about a million illegals have snuck across the border per year.

      Also, the CDC is covering up the link between the outbreak of Endovirus in public schools since Pres. Obola’s executive release of about 60,000 illegal children from Central America to their largely illegal relatives across the US who were not screened for disease and exempted from the immunization requirement before enrollment. The reason? There is an election coming up in about two weeks and they would rather you didn’t know.

    • avatar

      No, WE didn’t welcome it but it was welcomed. When we get to the point we are discussing what material the gloves used to treat a potential epidemic in this country should be rather than the methods we should be considering and using to stop the disease from entering our country, we have sunk to a low that I couldn’t have imagined in my worst nightmare!!! There was a time and it just ended six years ago when we had a government in this country. Now, what we have is mass chaos, no leadership and the desire by half of those sitting in Washington to destroy this country and the other half to sit there dumbed down and helpless and being content to allow them to do it without one hint of resistance. There is TALK OF RESISTANCE but THERE IS NO RESISTANCE. Everything you both say is correct. But, Leland, it is NO LONGER MY DUTY (AND NEVER WAS) to hand out welfare to just any who comes here for any reason while legal Americans struggle and can’t succeed because THEIR so-called government has turned their backs on them in favor of criminal and diseased illegals.

  5. avatar

    “12 million illegal aliens reside in the US without having had health care screening.” Exactly. And further evidence that the comparisons between now and a hundred years ago are bogus. Immigrants then were screened for chronic and communicable diseases and were frequently sent back, along with those who it was felt would become “public charges”. Now it’s apparently our duty to hand out welfare to those who come here.

    • avatar

      It is well known, that they are not even sure how many “illegals” are here in the U.S. But it is estimated to be more like 30 million, not 12 million. Of which many of them are on our “welfare” take. Isn’t it bad enough we have so many of our own on welfare, that we have to support illegals on welfare too?

      • avatar

        You are spot on Grasshopper! How could they know how many are here when they purposefully hide? I NEVER believed the 12 million figure, and that was years ago. I am sure we have well over a million in the county I live in, cause I go into MANY homes. THE GOVERMENT WILL NOT KNOW HOW MANY ARE REALLY HERE UNTIL AFTER THEY GIVE THEM ALL AMNESTY, THEN IT WILL BE TOO LATE.

        I am a compassionate, spiritual person, but the reality of the world is that we cannot take care of every person in the world in our country without wrecking our country. And despite the fact that our country has ever increasing issues of substance, the people of the entire world would suffer greatly should we fall, or become any less strong. We HAVE been inclusive, and shared our country and invited others in. They just want us to do it at the numbers they want, and forever, despite any harm it brings us. They do not see the harm to the middle class or poor of our country, because it is a human thing to be self centered. Yes we are a country of immigrants, but that doesn’t mean our democracy is financially and socially strong enough to allow huge numbers of immigrants forever! After all, the world is in the process of being overpopulated! The best thing they could do is stay in their own countries and fight for their lives as our for father’s did and as the people in Hong Kong are doing now.

        Problem is, we are all preaching to the choir on these sites because it is mostly people of our own concerns that would visit them. We have to figure a way to outreach effectively. That includes a large dose of CONFLICT MANAGEMENT SKILLS! You do not convince others by attacking them. I do mean you Grasshopper, but the movement at large. PS I like your name!