Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) plans to introduce legislation that would ban new visas for people from the three countries affected by the Ebola epidemic; Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. In a statement from his office on Monday, Rubio described a visa ban as a “common sense” restriction.
“While Ebola’s deadly reach has proven to be a complex and unique international challenge, the many uncertainties surrounding this virus continue to threaten U.S. national security,” Rubio said. “Our biggest priority is ensuring that sufficient safeguards are in place to limit the spread of Ebola, contain it at the source, and protect Americans.”
Many health experts and officials have come out against imposing travel restrictions on the three nations that are the epicentre of the epidemic. Opponents of travel restrictions have argued isolating the countries battling the most new cases of the virus would actually worsen the situation there. President Barack Obama opposes travel restrictions, but a growing number of lawmakers have called for them.
In his statement, Rubio argued a visa ban would not result in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone being “completely” cut off.
“We must take any and all necessary precautions to contain this virus — and common sense restrictions on travel from countries now confronting this epidemic is an important step,” said Rubio. “The most effective way to combat this deadly virus is to address it at its source. This ban on issuance of visas does not mean we will be completely cutting off the affected countries from the outside world. We must continue to increase our assistance to those countries as they struggle to contain this outbreak. That is, ultimately, the only way we will be able to stop this outbreak and keep Americans safe from this horrible disease.”
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