Trump's Travel Ban: What Has Happened So Far

Here's a summary of the news and some of the broader business risks the travel restrictions pose.
Trump's Travel Ban: What Has Happened So Far
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The article below chronicles the legal battle over President Donald Trump’s executive order, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States.” Entrepreneur will update the information below to reflect how the specifications of the executive order are or are not being enforced or adapted.

Click here for a guide that professionals and businesses may refer to as the results of the executive order become apparent.

Update, March 6, 2017: President Donald Trump today signed a new executive order that will bar new visa seekers from six majority-Muslim countries for 90 days. Iraq was removed from the list, but this revised ban continues to affect citizens from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Current visa holders should not be affected by the order.

The U.S. refu­gee program will be suspended for 120 days. In September 2016, the number of refugees accepted into the country was raised from 85,000 to 110,000 for the 2017 fiscal year, but under the new executive order, that number was cut to 50,000. The order will go into effect on March 16. 

The original story, published on Feb. 7, 2017, follows.

On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order banning travelers who are citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the U.S. for 90 days, barring U.S. admission of refugees from Syria indefinitely and suspending U.S. admission of refugees from any other country for 120 days.

On Feb. 3, a federal judge ruled to temporarily suspend the order. The Justice Department filed an appeal, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled to deny it on Feb. 9. The order remains suspended.

What has happened so far?

Within 24 hours of Trump’s signing, the executive order had resulted in green-card holders or permanent residents being detained at U.S. airports. On Jan. 28, two Iraqi immigrants and American Civil Liberties Union lawyers sued, and Judge Ann M. Donnelly of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., granted a temporary injunction blocking the deportation of people who had traveled to the U.S. with valid visas or refugee status. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly then issued a statement that the U.S. would not restrict permanent residents from re-entering the country, provided there is no information indicating that the traveler in question does not pose a “serious threat to public safety and welfare.”

Related: What Business Travelers Need to Know About Trump’s Travel Ban

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said on Meet the Press on Jan. 29 that customs and border patrol agents would have “discretionary authority” to question and scrutinize any travelers, including U.S. citizens, if they had been to any of the seven countries included in the ban.

The executive order also suspended the U.S. Visa Interview Waiver Program, which is designed to make it easier for some frequent travelers to enter the U.S. without being re-interviewed. The order required travelers to schedule face-to-face interviews with U.S. consular officers to renew visas that have been expired for more than a year, creating an inconvenience and the potential to delay or discourage travelers. (Under the Visa Interview Waiver Program, qualifying visa renewal applicants may have interviews waived within four years of expiration.)

The nonprofit U.S. Travel Association issued the following statement on Jan. 28, attributed to CEO Roger Dow:

"We recognize the new administration's desire to review visa issuance protocols with respect to countries that have a heightened risk of terrorist activity or weak law enforcement cooperation with our government. We urge the administration to conduct this review quickly, and trust that it will yield an even more secure travel security system that protects international travelers and welcomes them into our country to conduct business and to enjoy our cities, attractions, national parks and landmarks."

In response to the executive order, many have voiced humanitarian and national security concerns, as well as outrage over the fact that the seven countries from which the executive order restricts travel to the U.S. are all Muslim-majority nations. Thousands have protested at major U.S. airports and in cities since Trump signed the order.

On Feb. 3, U.S. District Judge James Robart, a federal judge in Washington State, ruled to temporarily suspend the order. The Justice Department filed an appeal, and on Feb. 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit denied the request to reinstate the order.

Robart’s ruling supplanted one by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton in Boston, who declined to extend a temporary injunction against the ban which prohibited people from being deported if they had traveled to the U.S. with visas or refugee status that would have been valid prior to Trump’s executive order.

Also on Feb. 3, a State Department representative told The Washington Post that 60,000 visas had been revoked due to the travel ban over the course of one week. Officials disclosed this figure in response to a Justice Department attorney estimating the number at 100,000 during a federal court hearing earlier that day.

On Feb. 5, 97 companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft, jointly filed an amicus brief opposing the ban in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit -- where the administration has filed its appeal.

Related: 97 Tech Companies Including Apple and Google File Brief Against Trump Travel Ban

In the brief, made available in full by The Washington Post, the companies argue that the travel ban “inflicts significant harm on American business, innovation,” “makes it far more difficult and expensive for U.S. companies to recruit, hire and retain the world’s best employees,” “prevents countless employees, clients and business partners from entering or leaving the country,” “present[s] America as a country inhospitable to outsiders,” “deter[s] the best and brightest from joining [America’s] workforce” and “will inevitably lead to the flight of talent, business and investment from the United States and overseas, sapping the country of the driver of so much of its success.”

What hasn’t happened?

Priebus told Meet the Press that the seven countries in the executive order are ones that had already been identified by Congress and the Obama Administration as being the “most watched countries in regard to harboring terrorists,” but that other countries may be added later in a subsequent executive order. The order does not include the home countries of the terrorists who have conducted fatal attacks on U.S. soil, including those on Sept. 11, 2001.

There has been confusion about whether the executive order suspended the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens from 38 countries to travel to the U.S. without a visa. It does not. Rather, it suspended the Visa Interview Waiver Program, mentioned above.

President Trump has said that the executive order is not a Muslim ban; however, he told the Christian Broadcasting Network that he sees persecuted Christian refugees as a priority among those seeking asylum in the U.S.

An appeals court reconsidered an immediate stay on the ban’s suspension after receiving more briefs, according to The New York Times. Trump tweeted on Feb. 4 insisting that the ruling would be overturned.  

The Ninth Circuit ultimately did not grant an appeal to Robart's ruling, though the legal proceedings will likely not end at this level and may go to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

What are some of the broader business risks of a travel ban?

Industry leaders expect negative economic repercussions as an indirect result of executive order.

Related: A Quick Explainer of Those Politically Charged Business Boycotts

“There is uncertainty in the minds of the public and in the minds of travel management employees, both in companies, at travel agencies, at airlines, at hotel companies, which in effect destroys demand for air travel and for related services such as hotels,” says Bob Mann, an airline industry consultant.

Businesses that take precautions such as delaying or canceling meetings and other scheduled activities may see their revenues and costs affected.

“Business travel drives business growth, it drives the economy,” says Michael W. McCormick, executive director and COO of the Global Business Travel Association. “When you create any kind of disruption, intended or otherwise, it can have an negative effect or a drag on the economy.”

Click here to read more on what you need to know about how the executive order has affected travel.

Edition: April 2017

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