Composite photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

What Is the Freedom to Travel Act of 2021?

What are the reasons why this legislation has been introduced?

The Freedom to Travel Act of 2021 — which is also known as H.R. 6030 with the House of Representatives of the United States — was recently introduced by a member of Congress who is also a member of the Republican Party and represents the fourth congressional district in Arizona.

What Is the Freedom to Travel Act of 2021?

Airplane and remote control
Photographic illustration ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Although text of this legislation is yet to be posted at the official Internet web site of the House of Representatives of the United States at the time this article was written, the description claims that it is “to protect the right to travel by common carrier, and for other purposes” — and it is meant to restore due process in the security of traveling by airplane and restore the basic right to travel for all citizens of the United States.

“Reports that Americans with no criminal backgrounds have been placed on the secretive No Fly List by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), preventing them from air travel, are deeply troubling. There are over 81,000 individuals on the No Fly List, including 1000 American citizens, none of whom were notified or ever given a hearing. Absolutely no due process is provided to American citizens who are being stripped of a fundamental right”, according to this official press release from Paul Gosar. “I am also concerned that the No Fly List, which ostensibly is used to identify terrorists, is being used to target political dissidents.”

The No Fly List — which is maintained by the Terrorist Screening Center of the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States — was created greater than 20 years ago in response to the events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 and is used by the Transportation Security Administration as part of its mission to secure all modes of transportation.

When a traveler purchases a ticket to fly as a passenger aboard an airplane, airlines must request permission from the Department of Homeland Security of the United States to issue a boarding pass to the traveler. Unless the government grants permission through the No Fly List, that passenger is unable to fly.

American passengers are denied the right to travel in some cases because they may have the same name as a known terrorist; while in other cases, some passengers are placed on the No Fly List by mistake or for nefarious reasons. When a person is denied boarding, current law restricts the jurisdiction of federal courts to examine the case. The government allegedly “works tirelessly to not disclose the basis for its denial, thus preventing aggrieved citizens the legal recourse to challenge the decision.”

Gosar introduced the legislation because he believes that “every American citizen is entitled to due process and to be told of any allegations against them and reasons for being placed on the No Fly List. The people listed should have a right to an independent tribunal to review the good faith factual basis for the listing. Currently, there is no meaningful legal redress.”

Ryanair airplane at gate passengers
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

One example supposedly occurred back in June of 2010 when a girl who was only six years of age wound up on the terror watch list — and nobody from the Transportation Security Administration allegedly prevented her from boarding an aircraft to catch a flight with her family from Cleveland to Minneapolis.

Here is one conundrum: would you go to the extreme measure of changing your name to avoid problems due to having it match on the No Fly List — and even worse: what if the name happens to be that of your child?

“Any listing based on legitimate, demonstrable, provable objective evidence that a person is a “terrorist” should be easy to present by any law enforcement agency”, according to the aforementioned press release from Gosar. “The secrecy and complete lack of neutral fact-finding is un-American and unconstitutional.”

Back in September of 2021, no fewer than two senior vice presidents at Delta Air Lines sent memorandums to members of their teams in which they announced that the names of greater than 600 people who were banned from flying as passengers with the airline were submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States in 2021 as part of its Special Emphasis Enforcement Program — which was first issued on Wednesday, March 17, 2021 — in response to recent incidents which involved unruly passengers.

Delta Air Lines currently has greater than 1,600 people on its own No Fly List; and representatives of the airline asked other airlines to share their “no fly” lists to further protect airline employees across the industry, as a “list of banned customers doesn’t work as well if that customer can fly with another airline.”

Final Boarding Call

airplane sunset flight
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

The purpose of the Freedom to Travel Act is to “codify the right to travel, set specific standards on what violations can be used to deny the right to fly, grant harmed persons damages, and reform the law to end the government’s ability to deny Americans due process.”

I cannot speak for myself because my name is not on the No Fly List — nor do I have a specific total number of people who are currently on the No Fly List available to me at the time this article was written…

…but do you believe that this legislation is necessary to protect the rights to travel for citizens of the United States “while ensuring the sensitive balance between legitimate law enforcement and citizen constitutional rights against potential political mistreatment” — or is this legislation basically unnecessary?

Photographs ©2014 and ©2015, photographic illustration ©2015, and composite photograph ©2021 by Brian Cohen.

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