We the Travelers
The only surprising thing about President Trump's order on travel and immigration last week was that people were surprised he did it.

Did you miss the endless presidential campaign? A "complete and total shutdown" of Muslims entering the country was one of the core planks of his run. A near-landslide of Americans--54 percent--rejected Trump's candidacy, but he did win the presidency. And the President has the right to unilaterally write immigration rules.

That said, the idiocy of the ban's imposition--without appropriate legal vetting, without warning to the bureaucracies needed to execute it, without protecting legal residents and immigrants who aided our Armed Forces and without a decent grace period for flyers who were quite literally in the air--is what has infuriated many travelers, sparked demonstrations and led a clutch of federal judges to issue stays and temporary restraining orders.

No one looking at the last week objectively could honestly conclude that President Trump's executive order did anything to make America great again. It was sloppily imposed by people who have the hat, but not the heart or the brains.

If nothing else, however, President Trump has energized the country to have a dialogue about the nature of America and how and why we do travel and immigration. For some, it's merely a practical discussion. For others, it goes to the heart of who and what we are.

With that in mind, I did something I never do. I contacted the independent, volunteer contributors to JoeSentMe and asked them to write on a single subject: the nature of American travel and of American immigration. I asked them not to speak among themselves. I offered no guidance, set no guidelines. The writers did not see each other's contributions.

What appears below is what we travelers individually have to say. I urge you to start with my column, if only to understand JoeSentMe's mandate. Then I enthusiastically recommend you read the other contributions. They are fabulous. You won't agree with them all. Hell, I don't agree with them all. But that is what truly makes America great: diversity of people and freedom of expression and ideas. -- Joe Brancatelli, February 2, 2017

JOE BRANCATELLI: TRAVEL IS POLITICS. WE COVER IT. GET OVER IT.
Nobody at JoeSentMe makes any money from this. We are volunteers. We do it because we want to write about travel intelligently. To speak truth to power without worrying about pressure from advertisers. Or politicians. Or political fanboys. When Trump does dumb stuff and it affects travel, I'll call him on it. Just like we called out Obama and Bush when they did dumb stuff. And right now Trump is making our lives on the road miserable.

MARTIN DEUTSCH: I AM AN IMMIGRANT
I am an immigrant. I was born and bred, and had my early schooling, in what was becoming Nazi Germany. This country has given me everything: an education, a family, children, a career--and my life. I have always felt as American as the next guy or gal. But having been born and raised in a dictatorship, I have an unwelcome feeling that my days as an immigrant could end in circumstances not different from my early years.

RALPH RAFFIO: I AM A CHILD OF IMMIGRANTS
An early 20th-century photograph of an immigrant family rests in a prominent place in my home because I am a child of those immigrants. I love that photograph. After my wife, it might be the one thing I'd grab should flames ever force us to flee our home. Now all I feel when looking at that ancient Italian-American family portrait is dread and disbelief. I never would have predicted that this country of ours would be at such an awful place.

WILL ALLEN: WE ARE ALL IMMIGRANTS
We are all immigrants. That is the essential truth of America, one of our core values--perhaps the core American value. Throughout American history we have made that idea work, albeit not without the occasional indigestion. Despite the usual hiccups and challenges of generational assimilation of new immigrants, Americans can proudly point to an unbroken tradition of tolerance of newcomers. We welcome them.

CHRIS BARNETT: OPEN BORDERS AND OPEN HEARTS
President Trump's ban of Muslim immigrants and refugees from seven countries, even though pitched as a short-term "pause," feels like a punch in the stomach. If leaders of other nations slammed their doors shut over the last four decades, I would have missed life experiences that could never have been duplicated at home. I don't like Trump threatening my right to jet someplace new and make new memories.

CHARLENE BAUMBICH: WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
Today I prefer to write about just two people: a redhead with freckles and a gentle man. They were our neighbors for many years. American Citizens with dear family and forever friends, all who long to simply be in each other's company. They just happen to be Muslims, one of them a convert. I worried about them after 9/11. I worry about them now because some of their family remains in Iran and now they cannot visit.

ROBERT MCGARVEY: UNSAFE ARE ALL OF US IN AN AGE OF TRAVEL BANS
The next trip I take overseas I will use my Irish passport and I probably will also try to polish my Irish accent. I feel less safe as an American. That is because even my friends who are living abroad are heaping calumny on citizens, mainly because of the actions taken by President Trump. For years I have heard mockery of presidents abroad. Now I am not hearing laughter. I am hearing anger. A view of us as a bully nation.

CAROL PUCCI: TRAVEL IN THE TIME OF TRUMP
As I write this, my husband and I are on a ferry traveling along the Irrawaddy in Myanmar. Real Americans, the ones who make an effort to get to know people of different religions and cultures, whether at home or abroad, are our country's best ambassadors. Now, more than ever, your country needs you. As travelers, it's our job to show the world that Donald Trump's rhetoric, policies and attitude do not reflect who we are--as a people or a country.

PHIL BAKER: HORROR AND EMBARRASSMENT
President Trump's ban is contrary to what America is and has been, at least in my world of high technology and travel. And itís being imposed by ignorant, prejudiced, reactionary politicians and appointees who are following polices that appeal to peopleís worst instincts, not to address any real issues or problems that have occurred. We as travelers are going to bear a huge cost and embarrassment.

DAVID DANTO: PLACES TO VISIT IN TODAY'S AMERICA
Does "Never Again" really mean anything to you, or was it just something you said a few times to impress your kids and ease your conscience? The trend among Western democracies toward angry nationalism is frightening. Some see terrorism and are willing to do whatever is necessary to ensure that our families are safe. I understand that impulse. But we cannot abandon our principles. We cannot close our doors.

DAVID ROWELL: TRUMP SHOULDN'T TARGET AVIATION
U.S. airlines hope that President Trump's "America First" approach to international trade and foreign relations might get them some favors and benefits. They hope for some protectionist barriers erected to insulate them from the severest of foreign competition. But will this happen? I can't see how it could be practically implemented. And I donít think there is a problem that needs fixing.

RALPH RAFFIO: A BRIEF HISTORY OF AMERICAN IMMIGRATION
Immigration and travel is the hot topic, what with the White House and multiple courts battling over President Trump's January 27 executive order. Whatever is ahead, however, it's clear some politicians want to give U.S. travel and immigration policy still another rewrite. To that end we decided to look back at major milestones in our nation's immigration policy throughout its 241 years.


This column is Copyright © 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2017 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.