Republican Senate nominee Scott Brown (R-NH) warned that U.S. border policies are so lax that Ebola-infected terrorists can easily enter the country, saying it would be “naive” to think otherwise.
When asked on WGIR, a New Hampshire news radio station, if he supported travel restrictions to West Africa, Brown instead focused on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We have a border that’s so porous that anyone can walk across it,” the former Massachusetts senator said. “I think it’s naive to think that people aren’t going to be walking through here who have those types of diseases and/or other types of intent, criminal or terrorist. And yet we do nothing to secure our border. It’s dangerous.”
Brown has called for tightened border security in order to combat the current Ebola crisis before. “My concern is with our unprotected border where people with Ebola and other infectious diseases can enter the country without being challenged,” he said in a statement last week. He used the idea of Ebola entering due to a lack of border security to contrast himself with his opponent, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, saying that the difference between them is that he voted to “secure our borders” and she did not. Earlier this month, however, Brown said that “it’s everybody’s fault” that issues in border security currently exist.
In recent weeks, several Republicans have connected border security to potential international threats, such as Ebola or the entrance of terrorists from ISIS. The Republican senate nominee for North Carolina, Thom Tillis, said earlier this month that the United States should close the border with Mexico to prevent the spread of Ebola. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has suggested that Ebola could enter the United States through Mexico. As early as July, Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia claimed that there were reports of immigrants from Mexico and Central America carrying Ebola into the United States. There have not been any cases of Ebola in Central America so far.
Republicans have also connected border security to ISIS trying to infiltrate the United States. Republican Senate nominee for Arkansas Tom Cotton has put forward the claim that ISIS is working with Mexican drug cartels to gain a foothold in the United States. Other leading Republicans, such as Rick Perry and Paul have said that ISIS could enter the United States through the “porous” border with Mexico. Last week Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson had to issue a statement saying that there was no “credible, specific intelligence” to the suggestion that ISIS fighters had enter the United States; he was responding to a claim by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Ca) that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol had captured 10 ISIS fighters trying to enter the country.
During Tuesday’s debates, Brown denied having said that ISIS would enter the United States through poor border security.
Amelia Rosch is an intern with ThinkProgress.