Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., announced intentions Monday to introduce a bill to impose temporary travel visa bans for nationals from three African nations because of the Ebola virus.
In calling for travel bans from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, Rubio joins a growing number of congressional lawmakers advocating travel restrictions from countries where the deadly virus is prevalent. Rubio said he plans to formally introduce the bill with Congress returns after next month’s elections.
‘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.’
If approved by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, Rubio’s plan would become effective immediately and remain in effect until the Centers for Disease Control certifies that the Ebola outbreaks in those countries are contained. Rubio’s bill exempts individuals who are approved to enter the U.S. for training related to combating the virus. Obama has said he opposes Ebola-related travel bans because they won’t prevent people from trying to enter the United States through other countries.
Getting into the United States through back-door countries would make it tougher for U.S. health officials to track and treat Ebola carriers, the president has said.
Still, Rubio said ’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.’
’The most effective way to combat this deadly virus is to address it at its source,’ he added. ‘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.’