Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Right to Travel: ¿Qué pasa?

In the 1965 decision of Zemel v. Rusk, 381 U.S. 1, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the constitutionality of travel restrictions to Cuba as “supported by the weightiest considerations of national security."

Fast forward several decades and, for what its worth, according to Facebook, the push to end the travel ban to Cuba is supported by at least 28,418 "people [who] like this."

Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama decided to ease restrictions on U.S. Citizens' trips to Cuba, particularly for U.S. educational, religious, cultural, and humanitarian travelers.  According to the Miami Herald, "[a]irports in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Key West and Las Vegas were among those that had been pushing to be allowed to handle some of the U.S.-Cuba charter flights.  More than 40 Cuba flights a week now leave from Miami International Airport."  And, a large national travel agency launched a marketing campaign, boasting "Connect Understand Become Amigos!'

But, Cuban-American Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Bob Menedez (D-N.J.), have announced proposed legislation that would ban any new flights to Cuba from American airports.  The new law would block any new flights from the U.S. to nations identified as supporters of international terrorism, namely Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan.  "Increasing direct commercial or charter aircraft flights with state sponsors of terrorism is totally irresponsible," Senator Rubio has said.

This decades-long issue persists even though courts in this country -- all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States -- have reasoned that there is a right to travel abroad.  That said, the Supreme Court has not declared international travel to be a fundamental right.  In fact, in 1978, the Court said that interstate travel is "virtually unqualified," but  international travel is "no more than an aspect of the 'liberty' protected by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution."

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