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TripAdvisor Backs Appeals Court Refusal To Reinstate Travel Ban


Refugees trying to make it to the United States and immigrants from seven largely-Muslim countries can rest easy for now because yesterday a federal appeals court ruled in their favor. They upheld a lower court's suspension of President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. The travel site TripAdvisor was among more than a hundred companies that signed a friend of the court brief opposing the president's ban. And TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer joins us on the line. Good morning.

STEPHEN KAUFER: Good morning to you.

GREENE: So why did you file this - take part in this brief? How exactly did the president's travel ban impact TripAdvisor?

KAUFER: Well, TripAdvisor's been very active for many years through our charitable foundation in support of the current refugee crisis. We've really come out strongly that this travel ban is cruel and discriminatory. So when you look at how it affects our employees, when you look at how it affects travelers all around the world, it's just far too broad. It's far too impactful on businesses like ours, the travel industry, let alone the poor refugees who are fleeing the very terror we're fighting.

GREENE: And you brought up a couple different things there. I mean, you're making a moral argument on behalf of the refugees saying that this is discriminatory. Of course, the president would say otherwise. But also you're talking about business impact. What exactly is the business impact on a company like yours?

KAUFER: Well, sure. We have a half a dozen employees from these affected countries. We have someone in Canada that can't even - working in Canada - can't even visit the U.S. to attend the meetings that they should at headquarters. You've had folks decline interviews at this point because they're worried they may not be able to make it into this country. And as a global company with 3,000 employees, we love to find the best talent from all over the world and have them work in any of our offices, but of course visiting headquarters is usually part of the job.

GREENE: Mr. Kaufer, my colleague Yuki Noguchi reported that a lot of people who weren't specifically affected by this ban at all were just not traveling because of the uncertainty. Have you seen a loss of interest or people using your site in general because they're just worried about traveling at all right now?

KAUFER: I'm sure we see a piece of that because every time there's more concern about will I be able to travel, what are the airports going to be like, how is this going to make travel more uncomfortable, there is an issue. I'd say, you know, that travelers from these countries aren't nearly, you know, there aren't nearly as many as from some other countries. So it really comes back to the overall notion of how can we single out these seven countries that, of course, haven't sent terrorists to our country before and say nobody, even the refugees, can make it into the U.S.? It's just unfair.

GREENE: The president's argument is that the security of the country is at stake. And he has not held back in calling out even specific businesses. I mean, are you worried that he could come after you at least on a PR front and suggest that your company is really helping to threaten American security?

KAUFER: At the end of the day, we have to do as a company what we feel is right. And now is the time when companies and governments really need to be doing more, not less, to help these refugee families.

GREENE: OK. Steven Kaufer is the CEO of TripAdvisor. And he was part of a brief filed in opposition to the president's immigration ban. Mr. Kaufer, thanks for joining us.

KAUFER: Thank you very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOONCAKE'S "CAST THE ROUTE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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