Trump's second travel ban runs aground early

(A federal judge in Hawaii blocked President Trump's second travel ban hours before it was set to go into effect, and is quickly joined by another in Maryland.)

Last week, President Trump took another stab at instituting a travel ban, but hours before the new plan was set to go live this morning a federal judge in Hawaii released a nationwide order blocking the ban. 

It’s an expected turn of events. The first travel ban was halted by a federal court in Seattle last month, and despite this new ban’s seemingly more lenient makeup, opposition to any additional bans was inevitable. This time a federal judge in Maryland, U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang, is joining Judge Derrick K. Watson of the Federal District Court in Honolulu with an additional, separate order forbidding the ban from taking effect. 

Take two of the travel ban seeks to bar citizens of six countries (Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen) from entering the U.S. for 90 days, as well as a 120-day stoppage of all refugees entering the country. Changes from the first ban included dropping Iraq from the list of banned countries, allowing refugees already approved by the State Department to enter the U.S., removal of the indefinite ban placed on Syrian refugees and the removal of an oft-criticized measure providing special treatment to Christian refugees, among others. 

Hawaii had argued that the ban would harm tourism and the ability to recruit foreign students and workers, while the plaintiffs in Maryland argued that it discriminated against Muslims and illegally reduced the number of refugees being accepted for resettlement in the U.S. Ismail Elshikh, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said the ban would prevent his Syrian mother-in-law from visiting.

Even with these changes, Watson wrote in his decision to stop the ban that the report is “issued with a purpose to disfavor a particular religion, in spite of its stated, religiously neutral purpose.” 

President Trump, in an address to crowds at a rally in Nashville, contended that the ban was being blocked for “political reasons,” and even suggested he may try to reissue the initial rejected version of the order in place of the more recently blocked ban. This ban, which went into effect late on Friday, Jan. 27, caused mass confusion for the travel industry and the traveling public, and resulted in measurable effects on the hospitality industry.

While the U.S. government’s next step in attempting to pass the ban is unclear, the U.S. Justice Department released a statement in opposition of the ruling in Hawaii, stating President Trump’s executive order to institute a travel ban “falls squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our nation’s security.”

The Effects of the Ban

As #BoycottHawaii became a top trending topic on Twitter, people on both sides of the issue debated the need for increased security vs. the need to promote the U.S. as a welcoming destination. With international travel already affected by the initial travel ban in January, another one is not likely to help support the tourism or hospitality industries. (It is worth noting, however, that a significant portion of Hawaii's tourism numbers come from Asia, and a public rejection of the ban could improve the state's appeal for international visitors.) "We know international travelers vote with their passports," Laura Mandala, CEO of Mandala Research, told NBC. "Perceptions of hassles on visas or security have historically been responsible for travelers choosing destinations where they won't encounter these issues." 

Following the initial January ban, the U.S. saw an inbound booking decline of 6.5 percent. “The slump was reversed when the courts struck down the ban but Donald Trump’s promise of a new ban has triggered a second 4 percent slump,” Olivier Jager, CEO of ForwardKeys, said at the time. 

Forward bookings for total international arrivals in the U.S. during the next three months are, as of last week, 0.4 percent behind where they were at the same time last year. Inbound travel from Europe, the Middle East and Africa is significantly behind, whereas travel from Asia Pacific and the Americas is ahead. As a benchmark, on Jan. 27, the day before the imposition of the travel ban, three-month forward bookings were 3.4 percent ahead.

The ban, if implemented, could also have a negative effect on U.S. hospitality companies looking to expand internationally. If the country is perceived as hostile to other countries—especially countries that are predominantly Muslim—upcoming deals for new hotels may face a slowdown.