Can the President Bar Foreign Travelers from Ebola-Stricken Countries from Entering the United States? [October 23, 2014]   [open pdf - 57KB]

"The recent outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa has prompted concern over the risk that foreign travelers may carry the virus to the United States -- a concern that has grown since an infected Liberian national who traveled to the United States infected two nurses who cared for him at a Dallas hospital. On Monday, October 21, the Department of Homeland Security announced new screening procedures at U.S. ports of entry for travelers from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa. Several Members of Congress have gone further and suggested a blanket ban on the admission into the United States of foreign nationals who reside in or have recently traveled to Ebola-stricken countries -- a suggestion that the Obama Administration has thus far opposed. Although it has never been used for such purposes, section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) seems to confer the President with authority to bar foreign travelers from Ebolastricken countries from entering the United States, if he deems such a restriction necessary to protect U.S. interests, regardless of whether there is a reason to believe that a particular traveler is infected with the Ebola virus. Foreign nationals do not have a constitutional right to be admitted into the United States, and rules governing whether and when such persons may be admitted are contained in the INA. […] INA §212(a)(1) provides that aliens may be denied admission into the United States if they are determined to have a 'communicable disease of public health significance' -- a term defined in regulation to cover diseases like Ebola that have been addressed by pertinent Executive Orders or World Health Organization regulations."

Report Number:
CRS Legal Sidebar, October 23, 2014
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Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
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