President Barack Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and Secretary of State John Kerry are directly responsible for allowing Ebola into the United States, the Center for Immigration Studies Director of Policy Studies Jessica Vaughan told Breitbart News.
Vaughan points to federal law–the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)–which she notes gives the administration “broad authority” to bar non-citizens like Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient allowed into the U.S., from entering the country. The administration took no steps pursuant to that federal law, however, to block people like him from potentially endangering Americans.
“They have broad authority to bar any non-citizen from entering the country,” she said in a phone interview with Breitbart News. “But the INA does have a provision on the books already that bars people who have communicable diseases who of public health significance. It gives the authority to HHS to create that list. The language says it’s only people who have them who are barred.”
“So what you have to do is set up a system of screening to make sure people you’re allowing to travel into the country are clear,” she explained. “We’ve done that with some of these other diseases in the past-and the way they do that is every visa issuing post has local doctors that they work with who will screen people who get immigrant visas to make sure they don’t have tuberculosis or leprosy or other diseases. You could similarly require that people who want to travel here on visitor’s visas go through a medical screening and put the burden of proof on the traveler to show they are not infected and are not carrying the disease.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), in an appearance on Laura Ingraham’s nationally syndicated radio show Wednesday morning, also warned that the administration was not acting forcefully enough. “I think that it is being dominated by political correctness, and I think because it’s being dominated by political correctness we’re not really making sound, rational, scientific decisions,” Paul said.
The government has put Ebola on the list of “banned diseases” but hasn’t taken any steps to put together a screening process or bar immigration from Ebola-stricken nations into the U.S.
“It’s all under the executive branch’s authority how to manage that,” Vaughan said. “They should be working with public health experts on how to detect the disease and for what period of time people should be cleared for. But my understanding from listening to the reports about this case in Dallas is that it’s the airline that’s having people fill out reports and taking their temperature. From what I’ve read that’s not enough.”
“People have to have not had contact with an infected person for 21 days and that’s not happening–there was one member of Congress who had asked for a total travel ban to and from these countries and that’s the most aggressive approach we could do, say we are simply not going to admit people who have been in these countries in the last three months,” she continued. “That’s what one congressman asked for. That’s the safest thing to do–but if you don’t want to do that, you could do other things like requiring a physician’s clearance and work with that physician and people have to show they haven’t been in touch with someone for 21 days and are fever-free for 21 days.”
The statute explicitly states that “any alien” or legal immigrant or visitor, “who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services) to have a communicable disease of public health significance” or someone who is “who is determined (in accordance with regulations prescribed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the [Secretary of Homeland Security])… to have a physical or mental disorder and behavior associated with the disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others, or” is considered to be “inadmissible.”
As such, Burwell and Johnson–and the president–bear direct responsibility for not setting up such a system, she says. She also includes Kerry because the State Department has broad latitude with regards to the issuance of visas to people who wish to either visit or immigrate from these nations.
“In visa issuance, DHS has always had this slight edge over State, but if John Kerry wanted something it’d get done,” Vaughan said. “And they [DHS and HHS] could tell Kerry at the State Department what to do. But I think Kerry bears responsibility here too because they [the State Department] know what the conditions are on the ground in those countries.”
But Vaughan said the Obama administration has done “nothing” to screen for Ebola getting into the U.S. or to stop visas from those countries.
“It seems to have been outsourced to the airlines. I don’t know if the State Department has ceased issuing visas-I certainly have not heard that,” she said, adding that if any actions have been taken it would have been publicly announced by the administration. The only announcement the administration made on Liberia so far is that it is suspending deportations of illegal aliens in the U.S. from that country so those people don’t contract the disease upon their return. Vaughan says that means Obama is protecting illegal aliens from Ebola but not doing anything to protect Americans from the disease.
“But one thing they did announce was they were suspending deportations to Liberia in order to protect the criminal aliens who are living here from having to go back to their own country and catch this disease,” she said. “We keep hearing from the CDC that there’s almost no way to catch it, and yet we’re protecting people from deportation? We don’t protect people from deportation to countries that have high rates of HIV or Tuberculosis? This is supposedly harder to catch than that, Tuberculosis.”
“So we’ve taken steps to protect illegal aliens from catching this in their home country but there hasn’t been anything done to protect Americans because there already are about 200,000 people who have been issued visas to travel here,” Vaughan stated. “Even if you stopped issuing visas today, there are already 200,000 people who have been issued visas to come here.”
Vaughan said if the administration actually had a plan earlier, the case in Dallas would likely not exist.
“If they had stepped in earlier with a more robust prevention plan, presumably this case from Dallas would not have happened,” she said, adding that Duncan–the man with Ebola in Dallas–should have been stopped from entering the United States.
“First of all, he is what we call a third-country national — someone applying for a non-immigrant visa outside their country of citizenship,” Vaughan said. “That is a red flag, because it means that the applicant’s ties to the country in which he is living are assumed to be weak. Add to that the fact that he is apparently a young single unemployed male Liberian living in Ghana and a citizen of the country that has one of the highest visa overstay rates of any country in the world and he already has a close family member in the US, and this was his first trip to the US.”
“There are many factors weighing against issuing this visa under any circumstances, regardless of the Ebola problem,” she explained. “Personally, I am comfortable saying that I probably would not have issued this man a visitor’s visa at all. This guy was a visa overstay waiting to happen.”