ASAE earlier this week said the Trump administration’s refugee and travel ban is already affecting international attendance at upcoming association conferences.

President Trump’s executive order on immigration went into effect last Friday, leading to confusion, legal questions and protests across the country over the weekend. The order indefinitely bars Syrian refugees from entering the United States, suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days and bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. The seven countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

ASAE issued a statement about the ban on Jan. 30 asserting that while the need for strong airport screening procedures is valid, it needs to be balanced with the need for policies that facilitate legitimate travel to the U.S. “Not only does [the travel ban] concern us in terms of the impact on international attendance at association meetings and conferences, it raises questions about whether we are making policy as a nation based on religion,” said ASAE President and CEO John Graham, CAE. “ASAE urges the administration to clarify the intent of this order and confirm our nation’s commitment to equality and humanitarianism.”

President Trump last weekend denied that his action was focused on religion, although he also voiced concern for prioritizing Christian refugees trying to enter the United States from Muslim-majority nations.

“To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House on Sunday. “This is not about religion – this is about terror and keeping our country safe.”

After thousands of legal permanent residents who hold green cards were detailed upon arriving in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security this week clarified that the ban does not apply to green card holders and announced additional exceptions to the ban, including dual nationals from the seven affected countries and individuals from those countries who work for the U.S. government as translators.

The ban has already led multiple courts to intervene to block aspects of the order, and congressional Democrats vowed to push for legislation to overturn the executive order.

“We are saying ‘no’ to the misguided executive orders because they are bad for America, bad for our national security and because they are so un-American,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “They go so much against what America has always been about. These orders make us less safe and less American. This ham-handed directive sews chaos and feeds extremism and makes lone wolves more likely, not less.”

ASAE is collecting stories about how associations and their conferences are potentially affected by the travel ban. If your organization is concerned and potentially affected by this order, please email us at ASAE is also part of the Meetings Mean Business coalition which is also working on this issue.