Two vulnerable Democrats facing reelection next month have joined numerous Republicans in calling for a travel ban on non-U.S. citizens coming from countries in West Africa most affected by the Ebola outbreak.
Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) urged a travel ban in a statement on Friday.
“I have said for weeks that travel restrictions should be one part of a broad strategy to prevent Ebola from spreading in the U.S. and fighting it in Africa. I am calling on the Administration to temporarily ban the travel of non-U.S. citizens from the affected countries in West Africa,” she said. “Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community, a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the President can take to protect the American people, and I believe he should do so immediately.”
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR), who is trailing Republican challenger Tom Cotton, said in a statement that Americans must “work together as a country to protect the spread of this deadly disease; it is not a time to play politics.”
“It is clear that the piece-meal approach to contain this outbreak is not enough. We need a comprehensive strategy,” he said. “It starts with a travel ban for non-citizens coming to the U.S. from affected areas and a stepped-up screening process conducted by health professionals for Americans returning from West Africa. The CDC needs to swiftly enact updated quarantine procedures, and start providing state health officials with local contact information for people arriving from West Africa.”
The White House has said it does not support a travel ban, although it hasn’t ruled the idea out. Public health experts have cast doubt on a travel ban, saying it would be ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. They’ve pointed out that it would result in decreased flow of aid to the affected regions — Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. They have also said it’d make it more difficult to track infected individuals, in part by encouraging them to travel to a different country before traveling to the United States.