by Sarah J.F. Braley | February 07, 2017
Organizations continue to grapple with the realities of President Trump's executive order on immigration, even as the three judges of the 9th Circuit of Court of Appeals prepare to hear arguments on the temporary restraining order that suspended the ban.

Between Feb. 1 and 6, a Meetings Mean Business Coalition survey collected more than 1,665 responses to inform its advocacy efforts to protect the global events industry going forward. Initial findings include:

• 54 percent of respondents projected the ban would harm the reputation of the U.S. as a global meetings destination, while 45 percent are concerned about the immediate complications with existing travel arrangements for international attendees registered to attend North American programs; 37 percent also are worried the ban will hamper their organizations' ability to grow their audiences globally.

• 18 percent of respondents said their organizations have experienced travel difficulties following to the executive order on immigration and refugees. Forty-four percent have not yet experienced such difficulties and 38 percent are not sure. Examples of difficulties organizations have experienced ranged from international scientists and doctors not being allowed entry into the U.S. for conferences, to events being moved from the U.S. to Canada because of the executive order. 

Respondents anticipate further travel difficulties stemming from the executive order, such as uncertainty over future programs like Green Cards, dual citizenship and approved visa credibility (26 percent), fear of harassment for travelers who might be of Middle Eastern origin (24 percent), fear that legal U.S. residents might be separated from their families (23 percent), and fear of reprisals or harassment to U.S. travelers in Middle Eastern countries (17 percent). Twenty-nine percent of respondents are not yet sure about resulting travel difficulties and 39 percent reported the order does not apply to their events.

Following are some of the comments from respondents who chose to note additional concerns:
• The bottom line is this: I am an American business. And my business depends on international clients attending events here, as well as my being invited to events in my clients' homelands.
• The ban and the way it was rolled out dealt a significant blow to America's brand globally. It made us appear not welcoming and could potentially impact travel from many of our major markets.
• Global companies in our area have meetings/training in our facility. Many times these meetings include individuals from all over the world, including a few from the seven banned countries. 
• We see a real danger in attendees choosing to not come to domestic meetings as a result of policies such as the recent travel ban. Many of our attendees find current U.S. policies distasteful and will chose European meetings over domestic meetings. 
• Our core goal is to bring people together; this ban does the exact opposite. It creates fear and uncertainty based on someone's nationality or religion. If you are Muslim would you want to come to the U.S.?
• This does not pose any change or issue with our current business model. We are a U.S.-based company and we stand behind our government, our people, and the country.
• Don't really see this as a problem as the travel ban is temporary and will give the U.S. time to sort out a good long-term policy/solution. If anything, it may help attendance as attendees may feel more secure going to meetings as improved measures have been put in place and the current administration is making our safety a high priority.
• I am 100 percent supportive of the temporary ban on allowing noncitizens to enter our country until we can first take care of our own citizens. My business will continue uninterrupted.
• Americans need to proceed with caution in all we do.