Donald Trump and Travel: What Has Transpired Up to This Point
T here has been a lot to digest over the past week — and especially the past 36 hours — with Donald Trump and travel during the first full week of his presidency in the United States.
Most of what I have read — which has felt like a deluge similar to drinking water from a fire hose at full blast — takes either one side or the other. A polarization of viewpoints has thrown the United States in turmoil and protests. Basically, the people who support Donald Trump are thrilled that he is following through on his campaign promises so quickly; while others view Donald Trump as a dictator and a fascist.
Donald Trump and Travel: The Controversial Executive Order
I have not liked the direction in which the United States had been going in at least 16 years; but I also believe that Donald Trump “used a shotgun to kill an ant” by signing an executive order yesterday afternoon which immediately banned citizens of seven predominately Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen — from entering the United States for a period of time of at least 120 days, contingent upon significant information pertaining to the citizens of those aforementioned countries to be delivered to the federal government of the United States. This included legal permanent residents of the United States in possession of a valid visa.
“I suppose I should take solace in that the new policy has an immediate impact on a relatively small group”, according to this article written by Seth Miller of Wandering Aramean, calling America the “United States of Racism”. “Only about 90,000 visas were issued to the impacted countries last year so maybe the numbers is a half million or so; the details are not entirely clear). But I cannot. Because the real impact is so very, very much larger than that. It affects me. It probably affects you. Maybe not directly and immediately. But it absolutely does.”
That had me thinking: how many terrorist attacks had actually occurred in the United States which were caused by a foreigner over the past year; the past two years; the past five years; the past ten years? I can think of many more instances of both law enforcement officers being killed — as well as innocent citizens being killed by law enforcement officers. Although I absolutely believe and agree that our borders can and should be better protected — we should never, ever forget the extraordinary events which happened on Tuesday, September 11, 2001; and yes, even one terrorist attack is one too many — the divide between law enforcement and citizens in the United States is one of many other issues which I believe requires greater priority.
So…is the United States now safer since that executive order was signed?
Iran is the First Nation to Retaliate
“Iran is the first nation to respond and not surprisingly, has announced plans to ban Americans from its border”, according to this article written by Matthew Klint of Live and Let’s Fly, who has considerable experience of how politics work in Washington. “Calling the President’s plan an ‘open affront against the Muslim world and the Iranian nation’, the Foreign Ministry has said it will retaliate.”
Do not be surprised if not only the other six nations implement similar reciprocal policies; but other nations announce retaliatory action in support of those nations as an expression of solidarity.
Protests in New York
According to this article written by Jonathan of The Winglet, a lot of traffic via Twitter was generated by people reporting on protesters outside surrounding the exterior of Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, as it “was the site that made headlines this morning after some travelers were detained as part of the travel ban implemented by President Donald Trump on Friday.”
Waivers Being Issued by Some Airlines
Meanwhile, some people whose nationality is one of those seven countries have been blocked from boarding airplanes to the United States — causing havoc at airports around the world, according to multiple reports — but what might be of little solace to those people is that some airlines are offering waivers as a result of the travel ban. According to this article at Don’t Call the Airline, “Air Canada has instituted a waiver for bookings as of today and onwards, and Aeroplan has confirmed with me that they will waive their change fee as well.”
If you are a citizen of one of the aforementioned seven countries who already purchased airline tickets but are not permitted to enter the United States at this time due to the travel ban, contact the airline from which you purchased your tickets to find out whether or not you qualify for a travel waiver or a refund with no penalties.
Latest Development: Successful Lawsuit?
An announcement from the American Civil Liberties Union earlier this evening claims that a federal court in New York had issued an emergency stay on that aforementioned executive order after the advocacy organization filed a class action lawsuit with other activist groups on behalf of Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Haider Sameer Abdulkhaleq Alshawi — two citizens of Iraq — who were detained at the airport in New York.
The effects and results of this late-breaking news has not yet been reported at the time this article was being written; but that the checks and balances system is actually working in the United States the way it is supposed to work is relieving.
Mexico and The Wall
Meanwhile, the recent degradation in relations between the presidents of both the United States and Mexico over immigration policies and that infamous wall to be built along the border has caused a very minor spike in the Mexican peso against the United States dollar, which had reached a record low on Thursday, January 19, 2017.
One Mexican peso now costs approximately 4.8 cents in United States currency; whereas it cost 4.56 cents at its record low. That is an increase of almost five percent in nine days. Time to panic? Not exactly — but economists do attribute the strengthening of the Mexican peso against the United States dollar to the strained relations between the leaders of the two countries…
…and that is simply one example of how politics can affect currency exchange — in this case, costing you more money if you are an American citizen.
How Donald Trump and Airlines are Similar?
“In his 1987 bestseller, ‘The Art of the Deal,’ Trump documents his affinity for making almost insane opening statements or bids for projects and prices”, according to this article written by Jake Novak of CNBC. “In one instance, the future president boasts about getting almost 50 percent off the price of a private jet by first offering just a third of the original asking price. And the trend continues from there. Several Trump-watchers have opined over the past year that his campaign and now his presidency is incorporating that strategy, thus inducing initial shock and outrage and then relative relief.”
Regarding the possible border tax of 20 percent to be imposed on all goods coming from Mexico — which “unleashed a lot of outrage from both sides of the aisle” — Novak argued that it is “altogether possible this was just the opening salvo and that the actual border tax could be a lot less than 20 percent — say, something more like 2 percent or 3 percent” and “I mean, really, that doesn’t sound bad at all after you were bracing for 20 percent, right?”
Many frequent fliers are familiar with airlines notoriously taking away benefits over the years — only to offer a watered-down version in return, causing frequent fliers to accept those diluted benefits as an alternative to not having them at all instead of comparing them to their more robust versions in the past.
New information may be available by the time you read this article, as there has been so much information released; so I hope that I was able to present to you what has transpired up until this point as succinctly as possible.
Assuming that Donald Trump has the best interests of the citizens of the United States in mind and heart, I wonder if he understands the possible implications of his actions — both in the past week and in the future.
Say what you will about Donald Trump; but one thing he has been doing is rallying people on both sides to speak their minds — something which I believe had been deficient over at least the past 16 years. From the Boston Tea Party onwards, protests and rebellion have defined this nation known as the United States — but immigrants and refugees have also played an important role in forming the fabric of it. Looking at it from a positive point of view, I believe this is actually a good thing. It is about time that the people attempted to take back the country from politicians and the wealthy — and that includes Donald Trump.
In the meantime, the unfortunate part of politics — as much as I abhor them — is that they do affect travel in some way, shape or form. Currency exchange rates, the cost of jet fuel, immigration and visa issues — directly or indirectly, the travel about which we are passionate are affected by politics…
…and in the short term, the impact appears to portend adverse and negative effects until all of what has been in the news this past week can hopefully be sorted out by rational minds of people who look at all aspects of the issues; could not care less about politics; and instead are genuinely interested in what will benefit as many people as possible.
I am a dreamer — aren’t I?
Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport near gate B38. Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.