Duncan Urges Suspension of Visas from Ebola Countries

October 17, 2014
Press Release

Laurens, SC – Today, South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency within the House Committee on Homeland Security, joined the Chairman of the full Committee on Homeland Security, Rep. Michael McCaul, and other Committee members calling on U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and U.S. Department of State Secretary John Kerry to temporarily suspend travel visas for individuals traveling from areas of West Africa impacted by the Ebola virus until the outbreak is under control.

Congressman Duncan has also previously advocated for adopting quarantine protocols for any persons traveling into the United States from West Africa.

Below is the text of the letter sent to Secretaries Johnson and Kerry outlining the request. 

October 15, 2014

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Nebraska Avenue Center
Washington, DC 20528

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretaries Johnson and Kerry,

We write today concerning the urgent need to contain the Ebola Virus. While we understand significant efforts are underway to screen travelers at the point of exit leaving West Africa, as well as recently established procedures established at five ports of entry in the United States, we believe additional steps should be considered to curtail the potential spread of Ebola to the United States.

Last week, the Committee on Homeland Security held a field hearing in Dallas, Texas, where we received testimony from Federal, State and local officials on the government’s current response to the recent Ebola cases in Texas. While we remain confident in CBP’s ability to adequately screen individuals with overt signs of disease, given the virus’s long incubation period of up to 21 days, individuals carrying the virus may not show symptoms when they leave West Africa or upon entry in the United States.  As was the case with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola case in Dallas, symptoms manifested days after he arrived.

Despite the strong public health system in the United States to combat a spread of Ebola, the most recent cases involving the two Dallas health care workers demonstrates the vulnerabilities of our system and steep learning curve public health officials are facing.  In light of these current vulnerabilities, we urge you to consider temporarily suspending visas of individuals from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone until the outbreak is under control.  Such a measure would ensure healthcare workers and supplies are able to be transported to impacted areas of West Africa, while also ensuring the public health and safety of the American public.

Taking such action to temporarily suspend some of the 13,500 visas would improve the American public’s confidence of public health officials to limit the spread of Ebola to the United States, while simultaneously permitting a robust effort by the U.S. Government and global health agencies to combat this vicious disease in West Africa. Moreover, we believe that any individuals that are diagnosed with Ebola should go to one of the four hospitals (Emory University Hospital, National Institutes of Health, Nebraska Medical Center, St. Patrick Hospital in Montana) that specialize in the treatment of this disease.

I urge your consideration of these necessary steps to prohibit the spread of this deadly virus.  I thank you for your attention to this grave matter and wish you the best of luck as our nation faces this public health crisis.

Sincerely,

Representative Michael McCaul
Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security

Representative Candice Miller
Chairman, Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security

Representative Peter King
Chairman, Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence

Representative Jeff Duncan
Chairman, Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency

Representative Richard Hudson
Chairman, Subcommittee on Transportation and Security

Representative Susan Brooks
Chairman, Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications   

 

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