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Subject: Travel issues
From: Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Maxwell Paley <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 29 Jan 2017 20:07:51 -0800

text/plain (29 lines)

I’m sorry; this isn’t directly about opera, but as many people here on the list travel internationally to see performances, I felt it important to make sure people knew what is happening that could affect them. Many of you watch the news and will know about this, but I ran into a surprising number of people today who had no idea.

I arrived back into SFO yesterday evening from London Heathrow. When I stopped by the counter at Heathrow to have my passport checked, I glanced down and saw that each desk had the memo stating “Effective Immediately: From the Office of the President of the United States.” It said that people from the seven “targeted” countries (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Somalia) were to go through additional screening. Only US citizens who did NOT have dual citizenship were to be allowed onto flights into the US. Holders of valid green cards or other previously approved US visas from these countries were not to be boarded.

Stopping people at the point of boarding their flights abroad is not affected (stopped) by the Judicial Stay on the Immigration Ban. It’s still in full force.

On arrival into the US, I saw that everyone dark skinned was being subjected to additional screening and a special x-ray setup, even if they had Global Entry. Prior to the judicial stay (which is temporary), anyone with a valid green card from the countries mentioned was detained and deported. Worse, people holding green cards were told that they would be indefinitely detained unless they surrender their green cards, in which case they would be “allowed” to get onto a flight to leave the country and not come back while the ban is in effect.This is true even if their homes, jobs or schools and families are in the US.

Even with the judicial stay, a number of DHS agents are not complying and are detaining/deporting people with valid green cards and visas. This is particularly frequent in Dallas Forth Worth and Washington Dulles.

For those who aren’t from the “targeted” countries, be aware that re-entry into the US is now likely to have significantly more encumbrance just because of the vigilance and screening of others. In the case of SFO and other airports (JFK), protesters have blocked the usual “Arrivals” exits and areas requiring many passengers to figure out how to negotiate airport labyrinths just to leave and also finding they are unable to get to taxis or other usual transportation to leave. Of course, this may subside after a few days, but it’s that way now.

So, if you’re planning to travel to, say, Europe for opera performances or you’re planning to travel to the US, be sure to make yourself aware of the travel situation. If you’re from one of the 7 countries mentioned, even if you’ve been a US citizen for many years, if you’ve maintained a dual citizenship (a number of my friends from Iran have done that and like to travel to see opera) you may not be able to get back into the USA.

Not trying to stir a political storm, just trying to inform.

Max Paley
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