Ebola Fumble: Obama Fails to Use Legal Power to Deny Entry

As the Ebola epidemic has spread through West Africa over the last several months, President Obama has not used legal powers he possesses to help prevent the deadly virus from entering the United States.

Federal law gives the president the power to issue a proclamation to seal the borders to any class of aliens who pose a threat to the United States. The law is broad enough that Obama could have issued a proclamation months ago denying entry to any foreign national from the countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria or Liberia. Under the law, such a proclamation could have also included any passport holder who visited those countries as evidenced by visas or entry/exit stamps on the passport.

Section 1182 (f) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act gives the president this power, which the Obama administration has refused to use even as Ebola threatens Americans. The law states:

Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

This means that Obama could, in the time it takes to write out a few paragraphs, stop the flow of people into American communities who have been exposed to Ebola in West Africa.

As I previously reported, four direct flights from Ebola ravaged nations fly into the United States. (PJ link to "Air Ebola".) Passport checks could be conducted prior to boarding aircraft bound for the United States from foreign destinations.

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