Trump’s immigration order is utterly confusing, even for airlines

Not all aboard.
Not all aboard.
Image: Reuters/Phil Noble
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In the chaos following Donald Trump’s sweeping immigration orders that temporarily bar citizens from seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the US, airlines scrambled to comply. One airline said it adjusted its own crew rosters following the order.

Dubai-based carrier Emirates, which flies to 12 US cities, said it made the “necessary adjustments to our crewing to comply with the latest requirements,” according to the Associated Press.

In addition to banning refugees for 120 days and those from Syria indefinitely, the Trump administration’s order suspends for 90 days the entry of citizens of Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. The order also applies to those with dual citizenship in one of the listed countries and another outside of the US. That means if an individual was born in Iran, has a Iranian passport but also holds a UK passport, he or she still can’t enter the US.

Airlines are the first line of defense in observing such an order. Gate agents check passenger documents. Failing to flag a passenger who is not allowed into the US under the new rules means the airlines could be left footing the bill for having to fly the passenger back.

In a sign of the confusion following the order, the International Air Transport Association industry group informed airlines in an email that the new rules could extend to flight crews and that US green card holders could enter the US, even though a Department of Homeland Security official had said the ban did include green card holders.

“Much of this development has come over the weekend and at a time when IATA’s Facilitation team has been on duty travel,” said the email, Reuters reported. “A number (of questions) have yet to be resolved.”

British Airways told Quartz that it will refund passengers who are unable to travel to the US due to the ban. Others, like Qatar Airways, flagged the immigration policy changes on their websites.

On Sunday, the White House said the ban would not include US green card holders but that they could be subject to additional screening (paywall), so travelers may want to check in with US immigration social media and their carrier early and often.

Correction: This story previously said that the temporary halt on citizens of seven countries entering the US would last 120 days. It is scheduled to last 90 days.