Associations are considering the business and social justice implications of the travel restrictions placed on foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States. ASAE called on the administration to clarify the policy and pledged to work with its members to address the issue.
President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration, issued Friday, created chaotic scenes in airports across the United States and abroad over the weekend, along with fiery protests and legal questions about its constitutionality.
The order indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days, and bans citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. Those countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
ASAE urges the administration to clarify the intent of this order and confirm our nation’s commitment to equality and humanitarianism.
The move by the new administration has been described as a “Muslim ban” by many critics—a characterization that Trump has denied—and raises a host of concerns for associations looking at the issue through both a social justice lens and in their role as conference planners.
“While ASAE supports strong screening of travelers entering the U.S., it’s clear that this order was too hastily enacted, sparking chaos and confusion across the world,” said ASAE President and CEO John H. Graham IV, FASAE, CAE. “Not only does it concern us in terms of the impact on international attendance at association meetings and conferences, it raises questions about whether we are making policy as a nation based on religion. ASAE urges the administration to clarify the intent of this order and confirm our nation’s commitment to equality and humanitarianism.
“We will be continuing to work with the Meetings Mean Business Coalition and other like-minded organizations to jointly address this issue,” Graham continued. “We will also reach out to our members to see how this ban affects them and their own members, and we’ll be closely monitoring this issue moving forward with a goal toward clarifying the order and making sure our members can operate effectively and facilitate international travel to their conferences and events.”
Trump this weekend denied that his action was focused on religion, although he also voiced concern for prioritizing Christian refugees trying to enter the United States from Muslim-majority nations.
“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House on Sunday. “This is not about religion—this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”
The White House further attempted to clarify the ban on Sunday by saying that it does not apply to foreign nationals with green cards granting them permanent residence in the U.S. Even as the administration attempted to clarify the reach of the action, four federal judges had already put holds on the ban, and other courts are considering similar stays. A group of 16 state attorneys general issued a statement Sunday saying they believe the order is unconstitutional.
“As the chief legal officers for over 130 million Americans and foreign residents of our states, we condemn President Trump’s unconstitutional, un-American, and unlawful executive order,” they said in a joint statement. “Religious liberty has been, and always will be, a bedrock principle of our country and no president can change that truth.”
Critics of the policy also pointed out that the screening process for refugees entering the country already involves many layers of security checks before entry is granted. Outrage at the ban came from both congressional Democrats and a growing number of Republicans.
“While not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one, which is inconsistent with our American character,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) vowed that Senate Democrats would push for legislation to overturn the president’s action immediately.
“We should repeal this, and then we should sit down in a careful, thoughtful way and figure out ways to tighten up things against terrorism,” Schumer said on NBC’s Today Show on Monday. “Let’s hope they do it, because this is what America is all about.”