How Travel Companies Are Challenging Trump’s Immigration Order
TripAdvisor's CEO said the ban was “heartless and discriminatory.”
Several giants of the travel industry are condeming President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily banning travel from seven countries, with some turning to the legal system for help.
Expedia’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, an Iranian immigrant who came to the United States as a refugee during the 1978 coup, told the New York Times that 1,000 customers had been affected by the executive order. Khosrowshahi wrote in an internal memo to staff, shared with Travel + Leisure, that the ban goes against the spirit of free movement that is a tenet of travel.
“I believe that with this Executive Order, our President has reverted to the short game,” he wrote in the memo. “The U.S. may be an ever so slightly less dangerous as a place to live, but it will certainly be seen as a smaller nation, one that is inward-looking versus forward thinking, reactionary versus visionary.”
“We, as a company, however, will continue to play the long game. We will do our part to bring travelers from all over the world together to learn about the other, the new and unknown, the uncomfortable,” he wrote.
Trump’s executive order barred people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Iran, and Yemen, from entering the U.S. The president insisted it was not a “ban,” after calling it a “ban” on Twitter. An executive order is a legally binding directive issued by the president, though it cannot go against the Constitution or existing federal laws.
TripAdvisor Steve Kaufer published a post on Linkedin condemning the ban as “heartless and discriminatory.” The company had already pledged some $5 million to support pro-refugee organizations, including Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
“We cannot be silent and sit idly by,” Desiree Fish, TripAdvisor's vice president of global communications, told T+L. “When you travel, you get to meet people of different cultures and from different places, and you realize that they’re more like you than they’re not like you.”
“Travel humanizes people...it opens up your eyes and it educates you,” she added.
While TripAdvisor has not yet joined any legal filings, Fish said the company was considering several options.
Several other organizations and members of the government have filed their own legal challenges to the order. The American Civil Liberties Union has been at the forefront, winning an emergency stay from a federal judge Saturday to prevent people with valid visas and green cards from being deported.
Federal judges in New York and Massachusetts issued a temporary restraining order on the ban for seven days over the weekend. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey joined an existing lawsuit Wednesday that is challenging the executive order with the goal of having it struck down.
Outside of the U.S., international organizations have also put pressure on the U.S. to cancel this order. The United Nations World Travel Organization condemned the ban in a statement, NBC reported.
"Global challenges demand global solutions and the security challenges that we face today should not prompt us to build new walls," UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai wrote in the statement.