Following last week’s Executive Order significantly shifting US policy on refugees and immigrants from seven countries the smart money was on those nations implementing similar restrictions. It was less clear how other countries would respond, at least in an official capacity, to the Order. Now we’re starting to see some of those answers.
Iran was the first to respond, explicitly stating that its block on US visitors was based on reciprocity. From a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry and cited by Reuters:
While respecting the American people and distinguishing between them and the hostile policies of the U.S. government, Iran will implement the principle of reciprocity until the offensive U.S. limitations against Iranian nationals are lifted.
Iraq followed suit soon thereafter, with Parliament approving a call for reciprocal actions. Unlike in Iran, however, the Iraqi parliamentary move is non-binding. Per the BBC:
The deputy parliament speaker, Sheik Humam Hamoudi, says the vote approved in the Iraqi parliament on Monday was “a recommendation” and did not move as a “law.”
Turns out that the Iraqi government structure does not allow for the Parliament to originate legislation dictating actions to the Executive branch. Even if only ceremonial it is a move that should raise some concern. For both Iran and Iraq the traditional tourism visits may be relatively low in number but there are business and humanitarian interests that stand to be significantly affected.
And then there are the other countries responding. Ireland hosts two US pre-clearance facilities where US officials handle immigration and customs processes before travelers depart for the US rather than upon arrival. These facilities are a boon to Aer Lingus’ operations as a transatlantic airline. Now those facilities are coming under attack from members of the Irish government. Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone is pressing her colleagues to consider revocation of US authority to operate in Ireland, pending a review of legality of the US Executive Order.
We need to determine whether our Constitution and the international treaties we have signed up to, that those laws operate in context of Irish soil in terms of prohibiting those policies of discrimination against nationalities, and also people of particular religions, that Donald Trump has implemented.
Irish government officials are in the US this week and no doubt this will be a topic of conversation at those meetings.
UPDATE: The Irish government has ordered a “complete review” of the pre-clearance arrangement in light of the EO.
The irony of the US potentially losing access to pre-clearance facilities on foreign soil as it claims to be strengthening the borders is hard to miss.
And, for its part, the IATA trade group issued a statement supporting the free movement of people while also respecting borders. The group mostly expressed frustration at the timing and scope of the implementation, noting that its TIMATIC systems could not be updated quickly enough given the lack of coordination:
Entry requirements for the United States were changed significantly and immediately by an Executive Order (EO) issued 27 January 2017. The EO was issued without prior coordination or warning, causing confusion among both airlines and travelers. It also placed additional burdens on airlines to comply with unclear requirements, to bear implementation costs and to face potential penalties for non-compliance.
We ask for early clarity from the US administration on the current situation. Moreover, we urge all governments to provide sufficient advance coordination of changes in entry requirements so that travelers can clearly understand them and airlines can efficiently implement them.
Emirates already adjusted its crew schedules to keep some employees out of the USA based on the ban. It is likely other airlines will have similar requirements, though none have been as public about those needs.
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