President Donald Trump’s executive order to close the nation’s borders to refugees and citizens from seven predominantly Muslim nations is having immediate ripple effects on travel and at the nation’s airports, less than 24 hours after the order was signed on Friday.
According to the Associated Press, Cairo International Airport officials in Egypt say seven U.S.-bound migrants were prevented from boarding an EgyptAir flight today to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Six of the passengers were from Iraq, one was from Yemen.
Officials said the seven migrants, escorted by officials from the United Nations refugee agency, were stopped from boarding their flight after authorities in Cairo contacted their counterparts at JFK.
Meanwhile, back at JFK in a separate issue, the New York Times is reporting that lawyers representing two Iraqi refugees being held at the airport filed a writ of habeas corpus – a court order to, literally, produce a person being held – this morning in the Eastern District of New York seeking to have their clients released.
When the lawyers asked to speak to someone in charge and were denied, they then asked a Customs and Border Protection agent whom they could speak with.
“Mr. President,” said the agent. “Call Mr. Trump.”
Trump’s executive order, “to ensure that those approved for refugee admission do not pose a threat to the security and welfare of the United States” after additional screening, went into effect Friday and lasts for 120 days. It bars entry of refugees from Syria into the U.S., as well as citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries linked to terrorism – Syrai, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.
Mark Doss, supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project, told the Times “We’ve never had an issue once one of our clients was at a port of entry in the United States. o see people being detained indefinitely in the country that’s supposed to welcome them is a total shock. These are people with valid visas and legitimate refugee claims who have already been determined by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to be admissible and to be allowed to enter the U.S. and now are being unlawfully detained.”
Even those already here legally in the United States are at risk. Gillian Christensen, acting Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman, told Reuters news agency in an email that Trump’s executive order “will bar green card holders.” A green card makes foreigners permanent U.S. residents, meaning if they have left the country prior to or since Friday, they might not be able to return.
As for the airlines themselves, they are under tremendous pressure to comply with the new edict lest they face the problematic situation of having a passenger denied entry to the U.S., forcing the airline to then bear the cost of flying the traveler back to his or her home country.
Agency France Presse is reporting that two travel agencies in Iran told the new outlet that they had been instructed by Etihad Airways, Emirates and Turkish Airlines not to sell U.S.tickets or allow Iranians holding American visas to board US-bound flights.
And Canadian airline WestJet issued a statement to its customer saying “guests travelling with a passport issued from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Yemen or Libya are prohibited from entering or transiting the United States for at least 90 days. Immigrant and Non-immigration visas issued in these passports have been revoked. Please contact your local U.S. Embassy if you require any additional information. WestJet is temporarily waiving the change and cancellation fee for guests who are impacted by this travel advisory:
Change your destination – just pay any difference in fare. If your new itinerary costs less, we’ll give you a travel bank credit for the difference. Changes must be made more than two hours before departure.
Cancel your reservation – we’ll transfer the full amount paid into a travel bank credit valid for one year. Cancellations must be made more than two hours before departure.”
Originally published in Travel Pulse News by RICH THOMASELLI JANUARY 28, 2017
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