Freedom to Travel

February 16, 1966

Report Outline
Challenging of U.S. Travel Restrictions
Succession of Curbs on Travel Abroad
Supreme Court on Freedom to Travel

Challenging of U.S. Travel Restrictions

Recent Journey of Three Americans to Hanoi

A journey to hanoi, late in December, by three Americans who oppose this country's policies in South-east Asia intensified a long-standing debate over restrictions imposed by the United States on foreign travel by its citizens. Alone among leading Western nations, the United States forbids its nationals, for political reasons, to visit certain countries. Off limits to most American citizens are five Communist countries: Albania, Red China, Cuba, North Korea and North Viet Nam.

The trio of Americans who visited the capital of North Viet Nam consisted of Herbert Aptheker, an avowed Communist, and two leaders of the so-called New Left—Staughton Lynd, an assistant professor at Yale who served as spokesman for the group, and Thomas Hayden, one of the founders of Students for a Democratic Society, an organization active in civil rights and Viet Nam peace demonstrations.

The three men traveled to Hanoi via Moscow and Peking in defiance of a prohibition by the Department of State. Passports issued to American citizens carry a specific warning to the effect that they are not valid for travel to North Viet Nam and the four other countries named above. The bearer is told that a person who violates the ban may be prosecuted under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. That act empowered the President to restrict travel during periods of national emergency. The national emergency declared by President Truman during the Korean War is still in effect. A number of individuals who have ignored the prohibition have had their passports withdrawn or have been prosecuted.

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