WASHINGTON – Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley today joined Senators Marco Rubio, Pat Roberts, John Thune and Mark Kirk to introduce legislation that would create a temporary visa ban for people who have resided in a country that the Centers for Disease Control has designated as a country with “widespread transmission of Ebola.” Aid workers and foreign military who must travel to the United States would be exempted.
“The Ebola virus outbreak has wreaked havoc on several West African countries and has threatened the United States. To protect our security, we must stop Ebola at its source. The best way to make this happen is to cease issuing visas or restricting entry to people from countries that are most impacted. The fact of the matter is that these countries simply don’t have the standards in place to properly screen travelers entering the United States,” Grassley said.
According to U.S. State Department officials, between March 1, 2014, and September 27, 2014, a total of 6, 398 U.S. visas were issued to nationals of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. There were 3,135 visas issued to Liberians, 1,472 visas issued to Sierra Leoneans, and 1,791 visas issued to Guineans. Meanwhile, according to International SOS, a company that provides organizations help in managing the health and security risks facing travelers, dozens of countries – including many in Africa – have instituted travel and entry restrictions.
Grassley said that most of the calls and emails coming into his office have advocated for a travel ban. On October 17, Grassley wrote to the President and encouraged him to consider travel restrictions. To date, the administration has not committed to doing so.
Keeping America Safe from Ebola Act of 2014:
o Who is a permanent resident or national of a country that the Centers for Disease Control has certified is a country for “widespread transmission of Ebola”, and
o Whose last habitual residence was a country that the Centers for Disease Control has certified is a country for “widespread transmission of Ebola”
o Aid workers who need to travel the U.S. and are approved by USAID
o Foreign military who need to travel to the U.S. and are approved by Department of Defense
o Status of Ebola outbreak in each designated country and the progress made since last reporting period
o A description of the U.S. assistance to each designated country
o Reasons that a complete travel ban is not in the interest of U.S. national security