President Donald Trump could issue a revised travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries Wednesday, a senior administration official told the Associated Press, one day after the President address lawmakers at a joint session of Congress. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the rollout of the revised order, insisted on anonymity.
Earlier reports had indicated that the new executive order would target the same seven Muslim-majority countries as the original travel ban -- Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya — with some minor changes from the original policy, including an exemption for travelers who already have U.S. visas, green card holders and dual U.S. citizens.
The report comes following by an effort by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at Sunday’s annual National Governors Association meeting to assure the nation’s state governors that the ban wouldn’t target Muslims.
“Gen. Kelly spelled out it's not about religion, it's not even about nation of origin," Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told CNN, noting that the Obama administration had placed restrictions on travelers from the seven nations targeted by the original ban before.
At the same time, on CBS’s “Face the Nation” former CIA Director John Brennan said that the ban was not a good solution to combating terrorism.
"I don't think the travel ban is going to help in any significant way," Brennan said. “It may sound good to have a ban against individuals coming from certain countries, but you really need to take a look at what is truly going to mitigate the nature of the -- and the scope of the terrorist threat that we face."
The discussion followed Friday’s leak of an analysis by the Department of Homeland Security casting doubt on the travel ban’s effectiveness in improving national security. According to a draft of the report obtained by the Associated Press, analysts found that citizenship in the seven countries targeted by the ban is an “unlikely indicator” of terrorism threats, and that few people from the targeted countries have carried out attacks or been involved in terrorism-related activities. The report found that, of the 82 people the government had determined were inspired by a foreign terrorist group to carry out or attempt attacks in the United States, over half were U.S. citizens born in the country, while the other were from 26 nations — only two of which, Somalia and Iraq, were included in the ban. One person each from Iran, Sudan and Yemen were also involved in those terrorism cases, but none from Syria. Administration officials responded that the report was incomplete and did not include data from other intelligence sources.
Travel Industry Impact
As the release of a new ban nears, the travel industry continues to take stock of what it could mean for the industry.
The Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) has argued that uncertainty over the travel ban continues to put business travel and the economy at risk. In a study released the week following the ban, the GBTA reported a loss of approximately $185 million in business travel bookings, saying that the uncertainty of surrounding travel in general had a “rippling effect” on traveler confidence.
“The current state of uncertainty over the travel ban could cause a similar impact on business travel,” the GBTA said.
The GBTA noted that in its 2016 Q4 GBTA BTI U.S. Business Travel Outlook, released just after Donald Trump’s election but before he took office, the organization forecast a 4.4 percent increase in business gravel spending in 2017, following a 0.2 percent drop in 2016. The GBTA said that that prediction is “now very much in jeopardy,” especially if business travel continues to see losses like those in the week following the travel ban.
“The ultimate concern is that the lasting impact of the travel ban, and any future appeals around it, could cause other countries beyond just those named in the ban to think twice about planning meetings and events in the United States,” the GBTA said. “This could create a huge impact.”
In a press call shortly after the original ban was implemented, Eben Peck, SVP, government and industry affairs at the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) said that the ban was having a “chilling effect” on the travel industry. At the same time, ASTA said that the views of its membership on the policy are split, and that it would release a survey diving deeper into what its member agents think of the ban.
U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow had said that, while his organization recognizes the need to maintain national security, the order could hurt business and leisure travel to the United States.
"Over the past two weeks, our members have voiced their concerns about how an unintended consequence of this executive order could be a reduction in both international leisure and business travel to the United States,” Dow said. “Destinations large and small depend on these visitors to sustain local businesses and jobs.
"That said, we stand with the administration, Congress and law enforcement officials, as we all remain vigilant during an era of constantly changing global security dynamics,” Dow said. “As always, we believe in striking a balance that places a premium on both security and our nation’s history as a welcoming place for travelers from around the globe."