10.06.2014 2

Why hasn’t Ebola air travel been shut down?

ebola_flagBy Robert Romano

“The Congress shall have power to… establish [a] uniform rule of naturalization.”

One of the few constitutionally enumerated responsibilities of the federal government is to secure the nation’s borders and ports of entry, and to provide consistent rules for entering the country, as in the aforementioned clause of Article I, Section 8.

The reason for such safeguards is obvious. Every sovereign nation has a responsibility to secure itself both economically and also from foreign threats, including military, of public health concern, or otherwise.

Under this guise, agencies such as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) fulfill that constitutional responsibility by establishing quarantine protocols to deal with outbreaks of deadly infectious disease that might originate overseas.

One such rule, proposed in 2005 by the then-Bush administration, “would have given the federal government additional powers to detain sick airline passengers and those exposed to certain diseases,” reported USA Today in 2010. (H/T wnd.com)

Unfortunately, in 2009, the rule was scrapped by the Obama administration, amid objections by civil liberties and airline industry interest groups.

Apparently, selling airline tickets is more important than preventing the spread of deadly diseases, such as Ebola. Whoops.

Fast forward five years, and the U.S. has its first reported case of Ebola in Dallas, Texas, precisely because no apparent precautions have been taken to prevent ill passengers from boarding planes bound for the homeland. The Liberian man traveled to Brussels before heading to Dulles Airport in Virginia en route.

Additionally, pjmedia.com’s Christian Adams, a former Justice Department attorney, notes that regardless of not adopting the CDC rule, the President still possesses full authority to shut off travel from Ebola-ravaged nations like of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, and Liberia.

Under Section 1182 (f) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act, “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.”

So, Obama could have already shut down air travel from nations in Africa afflicted by the disease. But he hasn’t. Why not?

As a result of that oversight, the virus has now reached U.S. shores, and could already be spreading. We don’t know, and may not know for another few weeks as it takes about 21 days for patients to exhibit symptoms upon exposure.

It is already too late to prevent the disease from landing in the U.S. — the cat is out of the bag — but it is not too late to prevent even more patients from traveling freely on airlines from disease-stricken countries. Obama could do that today.

As a result of the failure, additional domestic travel restrictions may become necessary in the coming weeks and months should there be an outbreak of the virus.

Are we this stupid? Is selling airline tickets that important? Considering how difficult it is to identify symptoms in the early stages of the virus’ progression, it is possible not even the 2005 CDC rule would have contained the current cases finding their way into the U.S.

But surely, shutting down air travel could have. Every day that goes by, every flight that takes off from a hot zone and lands elsewhere is a failure by the federal government, and every other government around the world, to properly protect its citizens.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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