U.S. Customs and Border Protection revoked the enrollment of people in the Global Entry program and other U.S. “trusted traveler” categories as part of the Trump administration’s travel ban on seven predominantly Muslim nations.
The ban triggered raucous protests across the country and was quickly enjoined by the courts. But some industry groups contend the damage to the U.S. travel industry continues.
American citizens certified for Global Entry often learned of the issue only when they sought to travel, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which says it received “dozens” of complaints and is seeking agency records about the revocations through the Freedom of Information Act.
A CBP spokeswoman, Jennifer Gabris, said the agency restored some enrollees by early February after the administration clarified that lawful permanent residents weren’t included in the ban. Last month, federal judges also blocked a revised ban. The CBP did not respond to questions about how many people had been purged and restored to the “trusted traveler” programs.
Several of the people who complained about being removed from the programs were U.S. citizens originally from countries not included in the bans: India, Lebanon, and Pakistan, said Abed Ayoub, legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, which is based in Washington. And some had their Global Entry status revoked before the bans were announced, he said.
Ayoub said he was “fairly certain” the government had revoked the status of members based on their names and wasn’t sure that everyone enrolled in the programs had been restored.
“The allegation that U.S. Customs and Border Protection cancelled Trusted Traveler memberships because the member had a ‘Muslim-sounding name’ is completely false,” the agency said. Ayoub’s group filed a lawsuit April 18 in federal court saying that the CBP did not respond to its request for the records.
“A lot of these individuals that contacted us are professionals …. they travel often for work and seminars,” Ayoub said. “Nothing changed in their circumstances or in their life to warrant [CBP] to go back and change their eligibility. The only thing that’s changed is the administration and the way CBP does things. What we want to know is ‘Are you focusing on Arab and Muslim-sound names?’ That’s the issue here.”
In its statement, the CBP said it has since restored all affected members of the four entry programs.
The fallout for U.S. “trusted travelers” from the first travel ban is the latest area in which the president’s immigration and travel policies have had unforeseen consequences on the travel and hospitality industries.
“Our reputation around the world is not something we can take for granted,” said Jonathan Grella, executive vice president of public affairs…