Wall Street Journal:
By Robert Wall
January 31, 2017
The union representing U.S. flight attendants has criticized President Donald Trump’s new travel restrictions on seven countries hours after the world’s largest airline lobby group voiced misgivings with Friday’s executive action.
Cabin crew with a legal right to enter the U.S. but holding passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen seem to be affected, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said in a letter to the new Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly.
The group, which represents 50,000 cabin crew staff, said the presidential directive appears unprecedented.
“Despite the enhanced government security clearance flight attendants are required to obtain before working for a U.S. airline, the arbitrary and sudden [executive order] will cause the loss of good, well-paying American jobs,” the union said late Monday.
Airlines are on the front line of the new travel ban that affects the countries the U.S. has designated as being states that pose significant or elevated risks of terrorism. They have to check the visa status of U.S.-bound international passengers to assure their customers have a legal right to enter the country. The U.S. government can impose fines of more than $4,000 on airlines that transport passengers not allowed to enter the U.S.
A Dutch government official on Tuesday said the country had suspended talks with the U.S. to establish so called pre-clearance facilities at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Pre-clearance allows airline passengers to pass through U.S. immigration at their departure airport, permitting them to be treated as domestic arrivals after they land. The Dutch government wants greater clarity as to how its nationals, including those with dual citizenship will be treated under the U.S. executive order, the official said.
French union CGT, which represents some Air France employees, Tuesday urged them to refuse to work on U.S.-bound flights in protest over what it called a “xenophobic” policy. The airline declined to comment on the union statement.
The new immigration rules, which include a ban for citizens of the seven countries on entering the U.S. for at least 90-days, caused confusion over the weekend as airlines and border officials scrambled to implement the new passenger checks.
Some travelers were detained in the U.S. after landing by immigration authorities. Airlines were forced to deny boarding to others because their right to enter the U.S. had been rescinded by the travel ban.
The International Air Transport Association, which represents more than 200 airlines including many of the big U.S. carriers, Monday said the executive order “was issued without prior coordination or warning, causing confusion among both airlines and travelers.”
Mr. Trump on Monday defended the travel restrictions and denied it had caused travel havoc. He said the executive order was “working out very nicely.”
Mr. Trump blamed disruptions at airports on other factors, including protesters and a computer outage at Delta Air Lines Inc., which didn’t occur until 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
The following day, Mr. Trump fired acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates for telling government lawyers not to defend the executive order. State Department employees signed a draft document formally protesting the order.
A federal judge Saturday blocked parts of the executive order and instructed the government to stop the removal of refugees and immigrants detained at airports across the country.
The Air Line Pilots Association, International, over the weekend advised pilots from the seven countries who hold a green card not to accept assignments that take them outside the U.S. until Washington confirms they are permitted to return. “As of this moment, statements from the U.S. government have not provided assurance on this point,” ALPA said.
Airlines said they were working with the affected passengers to help revise their travel plans and, in some cases, offered ticket refunds.
Emirates Airline, the world’s largest by international traffic, and neighboring Etihad Airways on Sunday said they were adjusting staffing plans to assure none of its staff were affected by the new U.S. immigration rules.
The U.S. flight attendants’ union asked the Department of Homeland Security to issue a directive exempting its members from the executive order.
IATA, the airline lobby group said it asked for greater clarity from the U.S. government. It also urged others not to implement ad hoc changes to travel rules.
“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,” the group said.
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