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November 17th, 2017

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Why does his administration refuse to protect us?

Laura Hollis

By Laura Hollis

Published Oct. 9, 2014

The most fundamental responsibility of any government is the protection of its citizens. The U.S. Constitution says in Article II, section 1 that the president shall "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States." And as the Commander in Chief of the U.S. military, President Barack Obama, is also bound by the military oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

Why, then, does his administration refuse to protect us?

For months -- at least until the Ebola virus took the front page -- the daily news was filled with articles about tens of thousands of people from Mexico and Central America flooding across our borders. When asked, many of them stated their belief that President Obama had promised newcomers "permisos." Newspapers across Central America reinforced this perception.

In addition to the economic burden imposed by the influx of millions of uneducated and impoverished people with few work skills, Border Patrol agents warn that "OTMs" -- persons "other than Mexicans" -- are using the porous border to slip across. Prayer rugs, copies of the Quran and translation dictionaries have been found in the desert.

Anonymous tweets suggest that ISIS is "in our cities," and even the union of Immigration Services workers warns that this is a dangerously real possibility. As we discovered to our horror in 2001 and 2013, it takes only a relative handful of people to commit the most heinous crimes. Why are we waiting until something catastrophic happens?

If the refusal to enforce the Southern border is infuriating, the administration's laxity about travel to and from Ebola-ravaged African countries borders on insanity.

For months, as global agencies warned of the spread of Ebola across Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea -- even while some airlines ceased flights into and out of those countries -- the Obama administration refused to impose travel restrictions. In a story that received only modest coverage, it was revealed that in 2010, the Obama administration "quietly dumped quarantine rules" intended to prevent the spread of an epidemic into the U.S.

We were told that there was nearly zero risk that Ebola would enter the United States, and thus no need for travel restrictions. Then Thomas Eric Duncan -- who had been transporting Ebola patients in Africa -- blithely flew into the U.S., exposing dozens to the virus (and demonstrating to the world just how easy it is) before he passed away. Even while ordinary Americans and experts call for restricted travel and mandatory quarantines, CDC head Dr. Thomas Frieden maintains that this would hamper aid efforts in Africa.

The logic here is inscrutable. The only people traveling to afflicted countries should be medical aid workers and other professionals who are easy to track and trained to deal with epidemics.

Further, anyone -- from trained professionals to tourists -- coming to the United States from these countries should be quarantined for Ebola's three-week incubation period. It is ludicrous to claim, as the CDC has, that someone is not contagious if they are "asymptomatic." A neon light does not suddenly flash at the precise moment when a person carrying the virus suddenly becomes symptomatic, at which point they pose a threat to everyone around them.

Concern for Americans' safety suggests that we should be taking steps to prevent terrorists from entering the U.S. via Mexico. That same prudence would also suggest the need for policies intended to protect Americans from a deadly hemorrhagic fever that kills 50 percent of its victims. (In another dismaying case of "bad optics," while Dallas, Texas, dealt with Ebola, Obama was at a fundraiser promising immigration activists that amnesty will happen, and "no force on earth" will stop him.)

The Obama administration was proven wrong about the risks of importing Ebola. Will we wait until they are proven wrong about terrorist infiltration at the border?

Opening our doors to poverty and pestilence, and closing our eyes to the consequences -- is this the "fundamental transformation" that Barack Obama promised before his election in 2008? The most powerful nation on earth should be exporting solutions, not importing problems.

Previously:
10/02/14: Toward a More Productive Policy Discourse
09/25/14: That burden called 'motherhood'
09/23/14: Obama's Johnny Bravo Moment

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Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is on the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches courses in business law and entrepreneurship. She has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education.

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