Senator Cornyn Demands Answers on Ebola Screening Procedures
Friday I wrote to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske to request additional information on the screening process for incoming passengers to the U.S. following this week’s first confirmed case of Ebola in Dallas:
Full text of the letter is below.
October 3, 2014
Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20229
Dear Commissioner Kerlikowske:
As federal, state, and local officials continue to address the recently confirmed case of Ebola virus in Dallas, Texas, I am writing to request additional information from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on actions to improve the screening process for incoming passengers into the United States.
Specifically, I request more information on the following:
- Under current protocols, what specific events or indicators would justify an enhanced screening process by CBP?
- What CBP resources and systems are in place to handle a broader application of enhanced screening processes for arriving passengers into the United States should such be determined necessary?
- Is CBP currently considering additional plans to increase enhanced screenings of incoming passengers? If so, what is the timeframe for such enhancements? · Please provide additional data, including country of origin, on how many individuals have received enhanced screening upon arrival to the United States since the Ebola virus outbreak began in West Africa.
- What are the current education and training protocols for CBP agents to screen and identify potentially ill passengers? Are there any plans to change these protocols given the current threat level?
- As of October 1, 2014, CBP agents began distributing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-approved Ebola information cards to passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Is CBP currently considering any additional outreach efforts for information dissemination to these passengers?
- What protocols are in place to ensure that persons traveling to the United States are screened prior to their departure? How does your agency collaborate with officials in at-risk countries to carry out these protocols?
Further, I urge you to coordinate with the CDC to ensure that we are providing accurate, timely, and appropriate information to all passengers arriving into the United States. I know you will agree with me that ensuring safe and proper screening of passengers from Ebola-affected regions is a top priority.
Thank you for your agency’s continued efforts to work with officials in Texas to address this public health threat and for your prompt response to this inquiry.