13,500 people from Ebola-stricken West Africa can freely travel to U.S. with visas
The Ebola virus replicates in a stealthy manner; infected persons may not show any symptoms for up to 21 days. This allows Ebola to go undetected for up to three weeks, traveling with an infected person who literally becomes an oblivious host for the disease — a mobile, breathing, ticking time bomb.
Just how many ticking time bombs could be traveling freely from Ebola stricken countries? According to federal data, roughly 13,500 people from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia have visitor visas that allow them to travel freely into the United States as long as they show no symptoms of disease.
The Immigration and Naturalization Act for US visitors states that “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 … is inadmissible”; however, the Act does not consider the 21-day time period in which Ebola can go undetected, eliciting no symptoms.
The federal data could not provide information on how many of these West African visitors are already in the US. In a high-density area in the US, an oblivious Ebola host could walk about making exchanges with hundreds of people on a daily basis, if not thousands. Health officials would never know.
In a state of denial and vulnerability
On one side, the media is hyping up fear, making ordinary Americans feel inferior and clueless about how to handle a viral outbreak as potentially deadly as Ebola. On the other hand, there are the US health officials saying that the medical system in the country is too great to be overrun by an Ebola pandemic. Ordinary Americans are left somewhere in the middle, chewing on the remains of a standard American diet and pharmaceutical regime that’s only suppressing their immune systems. Where does this really leave the US populace? In a state of denial and vulnerability.
Immigration policy director urges 21-day hold on visitors from Ebola-stricken regions
Jessica Vaughan, policy director at the Center for Immigration Studies, is pushing for low-scale immigration and is urging for immigration policy to exclude visitors from Ebola-stricken countries.
“It would be reasonable [for the president] to designate Ebola as a communicable disease of public health significance,” she said. “That would enable the State Department to impose tighter restrictions on visitors.”
Under Vaughan’s immigration policy revision, visitors from West Africa would basically be quarantined and held for up to 21 days — enough time to prove that Ebola is not in their system. On September 20, a Liberian made his way into the US and began showing symptoms four days later. His condition went undetected until he was admitted to the hospital for the second time. Now, federal health officials are trying to track down everyone whom he came in contact with as panic sets in across Texas.
Multiple thousands coming to America for taxpayer-funded advantages, bringing diseases with them
Vaughan believes that many more West Africans are going to be making their way to the US for treatment that they can’t find in their country. “There’s no reason that people won’t come here for treatment that doesn’t exist in their country,” said Vaughan, especially “if there is no effort to recoup [medical] costs or to prevent people coming.”
“People pay attention to our border policy and try to take advantage of anything they see,” she said. For instance, in the past year, an estimated 130,000 Central Americans have made their way across the southern border with Mexico, taking advantage of taxpayer-funded benefits. The flood of people from Central America have likely carried over enterovirus 68, forcing hundreds of American children who are not accustomed to the virus to come down with respiratory symptoms that can lead to paralysis and death.
Whether it’s enterovirus or Ebola coming in carelessly, the health authorities in the US often brush the matter under the rug, doing little to bolster actual national defense. “Where immigration and travel security matters are concerned, this [U.S.] administration has a history of trying to sweep potential security and health threats under the rug,” said Vaughan. “They’re on the side of acting like there not a threat, there’s nothing to see here.”
Here’s a list of the number of visas [PDF] per country that the State Department has on file for this year.
In addition to the 13,500 visas for those in Ebola-stricken countries, there’s another 195,000 out there for Nigerians, who are neighbors to the Ebola epidemic.