I don’t normally get political, I’m just not really a super political person. But some crazy things have happened in the last two weeks and I feel like they need to be addressed. It may seem strange or even inappropriate to talk politics on a travel blog, but the policies that are being made here in the US are having, and are going to have a huge impact on travel and the travel community.
So I want to talk about these political situations, what they mean, how they affect travel for both United States citizens and people traveling to the United States, and what is going to happen next.
The Travel Ban
Let’s start with the big one, on January 27 Trump signed an executive order suspending travel for anyone coming into the country from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for 90 days and blocks refugees from Syria from entry indefinitely.
So what does this mean for us travelers?
For United States citizens, it really doesn’t mean much unless you are traveling to one of those 7 countries. If you are traveling to any of them you will likely be detained and questioned. There may be some unintended repercussion however, countries tend to mirror each other immigration policies. So when the United States bans anyone from Iran, that mean Iran can ban all US citizens from entry into their country. If we start to think into the worst case scenarios, if United States starts banning people from more countries and in turn they ban us back, that will begin to restrict where I can go with my US passport and I’m really not into that.
For travelers coming to the United States it means a variety of things. As a citizen of one of those 7 countries you will not be let in, and a lot of times not even be allowed onto the plane. If you are a citizen of any other country coming to the US you should be fine. If you have a stamp in your passport from any of the 7 banned countries as far as I can tell, it shouldn’t be a problem. However, I’m sure there is a good chance of being detained and questioned about your time there.
On February 3rd a US district judge blocked the executive order from implementation, so as of right now (Feb. 10, 2017) the ban has been halted on the grounds that it is unconstitutional (which it is). Last night the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to continue blocking enforcement of the ban. For the time being there are no ‘travel bans’ for people coming into the US.
I was raised in a country that valued inclusion, our largest port of entry literally says “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore…”
It saddens me that we are no longer a country that is open for people escaping oppression and searching for a better life. As a traveler it saddens me that all this is out of fear, because we don’t understand a culture or religion. We travel to see the world, to meet people for all walks of life, and understand other cultures. What I think we are missing in our world right now is understanding. I write this blog to show that the world is not as scary of a place as it sometimes made out to be, and people are the same everywhere. We all just want to be happy and healthy, and want the best for our families.
The second thing I wanted to address is the GOP bill to sell 3.3 million acres of public lands to private owners. In the United States public land is outdoor space designated for public use, recreation, and wildlife refuges. The bill would sell over 3 million acre of land in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. I don’t know about you, but to me, those are basically the most outdoorsy states there are. Places where we go to unplug, and connect to nature and appreciate its beauty.
What it means for us.
For travelers it simply means that no one would be able to enjoy these outdoor spaces. No one would have access to hiking trails, campsites, climbing spots, and hunting grounds. People travel from all over to see the gorgeous natural land here in the US. Getting rid of it seems like an assault on humanity and our need for green space.
Luckily, on February 2nd the bill was withdrawn due to a huge outcry from the outdoors community. So our public lands and outdoor spaces are safe for now, but we should stay watchful. There are many members of congress who think our beautiful land would be more useful making money for corporations than open for everyone to enjoy.
I have always been an outdoorsy person so outdoor spaces are very important to me. I think the best place to get out and clear my head is outside in nature. The US has such a diverse landscape, the outdoors look different in each of those states. They each have their own unique vegetation, animals, and land formations. I feel like it would be such a waste for the land to be sold off to a corporation to mine for a small amount of resources and then leave ruined after.
So as you can see I have some strong opinions about these issues, and whether or not you agree with me I hope you can appreciate that these policies do affect travel. While both have been blocked right now, it doesn’t mean they won’t come up again in the (near) future. The best we can do is stay informed. The more we know, the more we understand, and that’s what travel is all about isn’t it?