Meeting Mentor Magazine

May 2024

Update on Travel and Laptop Bans

The Supreme Court in July reinstated part of the Trump administration’s travel restrictions on people from six countries: Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Justices said the Trump administration could move ahead for now with plans to impose the ban on a broad group of refugees. But the court said the Trump administration could not ban travel by people from these countries who are grandparents, aunts, uncles and other extended family members of residents in the United States.

The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on October 10 on the legality of the administration’s various travel restrictions in general.

Federal courts have been challenging Trump’s travel bans for months. The first ban, issued by executive order in January, caused chaos at the nation’s airports and raised a major outcry from various constituencies, including the travel industry. The ban was quickly blocked by the courts. Rather than appealing to the Supreme Court, the administration issued a revised executive order in March. That order was blocked by federal appeals courts on the basis that it violated the Constitution by discriminating based on religion and that it exceeded the president’s authority.

The Laptop Ban is Over

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in July lifted a ban that prohibited passengers flying into the United States from airports in 10 Muslim-majority countries from bringing laptops and other large electronic devices into the cabin with them.

Security officials imposed the ban in March, warning that the Islamic State was developing bombs that could be hidden in portable electronic devices. But after airlines and airports affected by the ban complied with the first phase of new Homeland Security standards, DHS dropped the prohibition.

The U.S. travel industry and commercial aviation industry expressed alarm after security officials said in May that they were considering expanding the laptop ban to all flights to the U.S. from Europe — a huge market for both leisure and business travelers. Instead of implementing that broader ban, the Homeland Security Secretary announced there would be new security standards for carriers flying into the United States.

The first phase of the new rules required airports with carriers flying to American destinations to demonstrate that they had the ability to screen passengers for trace amounts of explosives. More than 280 airports — including the 10 targeted by the original laptop ban — complied with the new rule. In the next phase, DHS requires airlines by this fall to demonstrate that they have the ability to conduct tougher security checks, including interviewing passengers as part of the screening.
— Regina McGee

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