Dallas Ebola Patient Was Another Visa Mistake

Jessica Vaughan, Center for Immigration Studies, October 1, 2014

Look up “likely visa overstay” in the dictionary, and you should find a picture of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who is the first Ebola case diagnosed within the United States, and who is now being treated in a Dallas hospital.

This looks like another good case for the consular officers training manual of a non-immigrant visa that never should have been issued, but which could have serious public health consequences, not to mention monetary costs.

According to his Facebook page and other reports, Duncan is a 40-something, single, unemployed Liberian living in Ghana who applied sometime in the last year for a visa to visit his sister in the United States.

That is five strikes against his application:

  1. Single
  2. Unemployed
  3. Liberian (5th highest overstay rate of any country in the world)
  4. Living outside country of citizenship
  5. Sister living in the United States.

Together, all these factors should have weighed very heavily against the issuance of a visitor’s visa to Duncan. He clearly appears unqualified.

In 2013, more than 3,500 non-immigrant visas were issued to Liberians. This number has grown steadily since 2009, when just over 1,300 were issued. Most are issued to tourists and business travelers. A relatively high percentage do not return, but settle here illegally to join a well-established Liberian community (many of whom have won green cards in the visa lottery).

The federal government has yet to disclose the details of Duncan’s immigration history, but it is fair to ask why he was issued a visa in the first place. More importantly, what steps are being taken to prevent others who may be infected from entering the country?


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