Persona non grata
A week into President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries and all refugees, travelers and their U.S. relatives are still mired in confusion, uncertainty, and disappointment — though on Thursday, the Trump administration did amend its ban to allow in Iraqis who translated for the U.S. military, plus their families. But when former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik was detained for an hour at Dulles on Tuesday, airport security blamed former President Barack Obama.
Bondevik told ABC7 TV he was "surprised, and I was provoked" when guards pulled him aside, since his passport clearly said he was a former prime minister of Norway. But the agents pointed to a 2014 visit to Iran, put him in a holding area for 40 minutes, then questioned him about the trip for another 20 before letting him pass through. The officials said they were working not off Trump's executive order but instead a 2015 law Obama signed requiring visas for people from 38 allied countries who had traveled to Iran and the six other countries Trump singled out in his order, though there is supposed to be an exception for people who travel to those countries on behalf of an international or regional organization. Bondevik, who was in Washington to attend Thursday's National Prayer Breakfast, had traveled to Iran as president of a human rights group called The Oslo Center.
Regardless, he'd called the U.S. Embassy in Oslo before his trip and they'd told him his diplomatic passport and another electronic travel authorization would get him though customs, Bondevik told ABC7. He said he understands not wanting to let terrorists into the country, but "it should be enough when they found that I have a diplomatic passport, [that I'm a] former prime minister." Bondevik, who led Norway from 1997-2000 and 2001-2005, says he's worried something like this could happen again: "What will the reputation of the U.S. be if this happens not only to me, but also to other international leaders?"