When the U.S. tried to ban travel from Ebola-struck countries


In 2013, the Obama administration took steps to crack down on travelers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa, including imposing a travel ban into the United States. Ebola is no longer a looming threat to the United States — though the most recent outbreak in Guinea and Liberia has killed nearly 2000 people — but the Obama-era travel ban proved controversial.

When the ban was announced, former Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) criticized the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to implement the ban, suggesting that it would be just as counter-productive to fight Ebola as it would be to defeat the virus.

“The federal government does not have the ability to control spread of a disease by limiting travel,” Biden said. “That might be a prudent response in terms of short-term curtailing out of respect for the suffering, but that also can create other problems, with the ability to basically ‘scrub’ out anyone with any indication of having traveled to the source countries. That also makes it harder to convince people and businesses in the U.S. to assist in fighting the outbreak, creating a real risk of potentially having it creep out of control rather than slowing it down.”

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