[R-G] Confusion over Florida Travel Restrictions Blocks Travel to Iran
critical.montages at gmail.com
Thu Jul 17 12:26:12 MDT 2008
The message of détente has yet to trickle down to the provincial elite
in the USA. Why don't they think capitalistically instead and dream
of investing in a future when Iranian and American travel agents can
book tours for "Sex,* Opium,** and Persian Poetry in Iran" or
something like that? These days, capitalists are short on the vision
thing. -- Yoshie
* Nazila Fathi, "To Regulate Prostitution, Iran Ponders Brothels" (New
York Times, 28 August 2008).
** "'Opium in our culture is like Champagne in France,' said Dr. Ali
Alavi, with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. 'Many use it
for entertainment'" ("Iran Fights Scourge of Addiction in Plain View,
Stressing Treatment," New York Times, 27 June 2008).
Confusion over Florida Travel Restrictions Blocks Travel to Iran
Jul 14, 2008
Washington DC -Widespread rumors that the Florida "Travel to Terrorist
States Act" actually prohibits trips to Iran have caused some Iranian
Americans to cancel their travel plans. Though the law is not yet
being implemented, travel agents have begun to impose its restrictions
on themselves preemptively, and in some cases, mistakenly.
The law, which was signed by Gov. Charlie Crist on June 23 imposes
stringent restrictions on travel agencies that sell trips to countries
listed by the US State Department as sponsors of terrorism. Its
provisions are aimed at five countries; namely Iran, Cuba, Syria,
North Korea, and Sudan. This means that travel agencies wishing to
sell flights to these countries are required to pay a minimum $1,000
registration fee and obtain a security bond of at least $100,000. This
will in turn raise the price of travel to these countries for the
Unfortunately, nearly everyone affected by the law is confused about
its true implications. Many believe that it is only related to direct
flights to Cuba. For example a recent CNN news report on the law made
no mention of any other countries being affected. "We're the only ones
they impose laws on" said a Cuban man in the report.
Since it was signed into law, some travel agents have been unwilling
to sell Floridians travel to Iran, preferring to avoid the issue
entirely. Some have even cancelled booked flights, thinking that
travel to Iran has become illegal. This shows a lack of awareness on
the part of travel agencies about the real consequences of the law,
despite the fact that the law is not yet in effect.
On June 30th, sixteen Cuban travel agencies filed a lawsuit against
the state of Florida to block implementation of the restrictions,
claiming the law unconstitutionally restricts federally-permissible
travel. They were granted an initial restraining order barring
enforcement of the law until August 29. On Monday, July 7th however,
the restraining order was extended to September 25, leaving the State
Supreme Court to decide on the lawsuit by that date.
David Cooper, Staff Director for Commerce in the Florida Governor's
office, told NIAC the law was originally intended to apply only to
Cubans traveling to Havana. Within the Florida legislature, the law
was tailored to apply to all countries on the US State Department list
of sponsors of terrorism, thereby affecting Iranian Americans and
others as well.
The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) opposes the law as an
unfair restraint on citizens' freedom to travel. "I will be surprised
if it doesn't get overturned." Assistant General Counsel Daniel Zim of
ASTA told NIAC. "It is in direct conflict with federal law."
To be clear, only residents of Florida will be affected by this law
once it is enforced. Therefore, travel agencies outside of Florida
have no cause for alarm, so long as Florida remains the only state
with such a regulation.
If the legal challenges fail and the law is upheld, one other
significant consequence is possible: politicians, in the hope of
appearing tough on national security issues, could likely begin to
advocate similar provisions in other states.
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