State Dept 'Not Considering' Travel, Visa Bans

State Dept 'Not Considering' Travel, Visa Bans

State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf said that the State Department was not considering a travel or visa ban on countries with massive outbreaks of the Ebola virus because of concerns that individuals will travel illicitly and be harder to track on Friday’s “Situation Room” on CNN.

Harf stated that a travel ban was “not something we’re considering right now” because “if you cut off the legitimate ways for people to travel, then they will still travel. They will just do so illicitly, and so you can’t track them.”

She expressed confidence that current screening procedures were sufficient, arguing “if people come into an embassy looking for a visa and they’re sick, or they’ve come into contact with someone we have procedures in place to note that and prevent that,” and re-iterating “if you cut off ways for people to travel, they’ll just travel illicitly and do so dangerously. You won’t be able to track them and monitor them if they are sick and you can’t contain this through a visa ban…obviously, you don’t take any option off the table, but that’s not what we’re not considering now.”

Harf added that the US would not revoke visas given to individuals in Ebola-stricken countries because “if they show signs of illness when they get to the airport or when they get to the United States, obviously they can be dealt with through the Department of Homeland Security or other ways. So there are ways to prevent people who are visibly sick from coming into the United States.”

When anchor Wolf Blitzer pointed out that Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan showed no visible signs of Ebola when he first arrived in the US, Harf declared “that’s not how you contain this. If you cut off the legitimate avenues for people to come into the United States, that just pushes them into the elicit arena.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett