President Obama has begun to explain why he is making sure that the United States does not impose a travel ban on people coming from the three Ebola-stricken countries to here.
Those countries are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. A Liberian man flew to the United States in September, bringing Ebola with him. He infected two nurses, and as many as 1,000 people are now being sought or monitored for having contact either with him or with the two nurses.
In a White House photo-op, Obama explained “I don’t have a philosophical objection, necessarily, to a travel ban if that is the thing that is gonna keep the American people safe.”
Obama claimed that in all discussions that he has had with experts in the field, those experts have told him that if there is a travel ban, some people might slip across borders to travel from another, non-Ebola country. Because that possibility even exists, there should be no travel ban at all.
Watch his remarks here.
Obama did not name any of the experts who he claims have told him of this scenario — a scenario that has become increasingly unlikely after several African countries closed their borders with the Ebola-stricken countries.
The president’s use of “necessarily” to qualify his thoughts indicates that he does have a philosophical objection to a travel ban. His default position will be to keep travel open to roughly 150 people per day coming to the United States from West Africa, unless circumstances force his hand. Today the president gave the first hint that that could happen.
Africa itself is less hesitant about imposing travel bans, closing borders and making other moves to keep Ebola from spreading. Morocco hosts the Africa Cup of Nations international soccer tournament in January. That country is now reportedly lobbying to get the tournament delayed until the Ebola outbreak is over. Some reports say that Morocco has already withdrawn from hosting. The Sierra Leone team no longer plays any qualifying games in its home country.