Airlines, DHS Prepare Travel Ban Following Supreme Court Decision

View of the Supreme Court building
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The Supreme Court has reinstated parts of President Donald Trump’s ban on travel from six Muslim-majority countries. 

The New York Times reports that the court allowed parts of the ban to go into affect as it prepares to hear arguments on the case in October. 

According to the LA Times, the decision limited the ban by preventing it from applying to “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States,” which could include a spouse, close relative, employer or enrollment in a university. 

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In a written release the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) said that it is currently reviewing the decision with an eye toward assisting travel agents to comply with the order.

“As it is imperative that the traveling public maintain confidence in an industry so vital to our nation’s economy, we ask that the Administration set clear implementation guidelines in the interim so uncertainty, and the travel disruptions likely to result, are kept to an absolute minimum,” ASTA said. “As it is imperative that the traveling public maintain confidence in an industry so vital to our nation’s economy, we ask that the Administration set clear implementation guidelines in the interim so uncertainty, and the travel disruptions likely to result, are kept to an absolute minimum.”

A statement from the Department of Homeland Security promised that it would provide additional details on the implementation of the ban after consulting with the Departments of Justice and State. In contrast to the rollout of the original ban, which was marked by travel disruptions, the Department of Homeland Security promised the implementation of the order would be “done professionally, with clear and sufficient public notice, particularly to potentially affected travelers, and in coordination with partners in the travel industry.”

According to Bloomberg, Emirates is introducing facial recognition technology to improve wait times ahead of the implementation of the ban. The new technology will allow passengers to upload biometric details and “selfies” to their smartphones, and then to use that data to scan through boarding gates and other security areas at the airline’s hub in Dubai. The new technology comes as the airline is facing a tough travel environment with the implementation of the travel ban, as well as the ban on large laptops and electronic devices. 

The policy has caused some travel industry organizations, particularly the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), to warn that it could harm inbound travel to the United States. The GBTA recently forecast a $1.3 billion loss in overall travel-related expenditures in the U.S. this year due to the ban, as well as other policies like the proposed expanded laptop ban and other political factors like Brexit.

The revised executive order bans travel from six Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya – dropping Iraq, which was part of the original ban. The new order also suspends the United States’ refugee program for 120 days, and lowers the cap on refugees from 110,000 to 50,000 per year.

Other changes: travelers from the affected countries who are legal permanent residents of the United States, dual nationals who use a passport from another country and those who have been granted asylum or refugee status are exempt from the new order. Additionally, current visa holders will be able to get into the country, although those whose visas expire will have to reapply.

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