One of President Donald Trump’s earliest and most controversial strikes was a journey ban on folks from sure nations he mentioned had been deemed a safety menace to the US. Joe Biden has promised this will likely be one of many first insurance policies he reverses.
The ban – which now applies to 13 nations – has survived many authorized challenges, however for some households it has meant years of separation.
‘My youngster turned 5 yesterday. We have been aside his complete life.’
Afkab Hussein is a Somalian lorry driver who has by no means lived together with his sons.
When he first moved to Ohio in 2015, Afkab Hussein deliberate for his pregnant spouse to affix him the next yr.
But whereas his spouse and kids now stay in Kenya, they’re Somali residents – and Somalia was one of many nations on the primary iteration of the journey ban.
Since he moved, he has solely been in a position to pay a few very brief visits to his household – and missed the births of his two younger kids.
“It’s been a really tough few years. It’s been really hard,” he says. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget the last four years.”
Mr Hussein works lengthy, lonely hours, driving lorries in 40 states throughout the nation. He speaks to his spouse on the telephone, however an eight-hour time distinction signifies that for big stretches of his day, his household is quick asleep.
He has missed all the main milestones in his sons’ lives up to now: “Yesterday was my first son’s fifth birthday – and I wasn’t there.”
Mr Hussein knew that in his marketing campaign Mr Biden had promised to carry the ban in his first 100 days, and was hopeful.
Ally Bolour, a lawyer with American Visas in California, says he’s optimistic these households will be capable of meet once more, however argues that even earlier than the journey ban younger Muslim males like Mr Hussein confronted discrimination within the US visa system.
“Before Trump, even during [the term of former president Barack] Obama,” this was a difficulty, Mr Bolour says.
“Even people who go for consular processing for émigré visas can be subjected to sometimes years-long background checks if they’re Muslim, if they’re male, between certain ages and from certain countries.
“What Donald Trump did was successfully… what the federal government was doing already, however within the type of a journey ban.”
Some argue that the ban is an effective counter-terrorism measure, but caught up in the visa refusals are also families who just want to be together.
‘I would never have had a kid if I had known’
Mina Mahdavi from Campbell, California, has a mother in Iran who has never been able to visit her grandson.
Pregnant with her first child in 2016, Mina Mahdavi applied for a tourist visa so her mother could visit from Iran. She really needed her mother’s support getting ready for the baby.
One month later Donald Trump took office and in his first week, he signed an executive order imposing a travel ban on citizens of five Muslim-majority countries. One of those countries was Iran.
“For the primary couple of minutes [after hearing the news] we had been all in denial. We thought: ‘This is just not going to occur … I’m authorized right here, she’s making use of for a vacationer visa.’ But then the visa course of went on and on and on, and my child was born… it was tough,” she says.
Although the visa application had been submitted just before the ban was announced, it took more than a year to be processed – before it was finally rejected.
Her son is now three-and-a-half and her mother still hasn’t been able to visit.
Raising a new baby without the support of her mother left Ms Mahdavi – who had postpartum depression – feeling alone and desperate.
“I’m completely satisfied I’ve him, my son,” she adds. “But to be sincere, I’d by no means have had a child if I’d identified that my mum would not be right here.”
She was able to make one short trip to Iran, but the journey from California was long and her infant spent most of the time crying from jet lag. She thought about the difference it would make for her mother to see him in his own home.
Eventually, she just “needed to get used to not having that emotional help, not having the ability to have my dad and mom come and go”.
Although the ban applies to all citizens of countries named in the ban, some have been eligible to apply for a waiver. But Ms Mahdavi’s mother was rejected without waiver consideration. For her, the whole process was opaque.
Brittney Rezaei, an immigrants’ rights attorney with the Council for American-Islamic Relations (Cair), says that applying for waivers for their clients has been really challenging.
“The [government] by no means put out clear steerage about what would qualify for a waiver… so we had been by no means in a position to present steerage to our shoppers about what the method could be.”
Having exhausted all avenues, including calling up the Supreme Court, Ms Mahdavi faced the possibility that the ban would be in place until at least 2025.
“I believed my child could be eight years outdated earlier than my mother would be capable of come go to us,” she says. Now, she is hopeful that her mother can finally hug her grandson.
‘My son is totally disconnected from his culture’
Gulnara Niaz, a Kyrgyz photographer in Boston, says she needs her parents to help her son understand his roots.
The central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan was added to the ban in January this year, a move which left Ms Niaz perplexed but for her it meant that she would not be able to connect her son with her parents.
“He’s completely disconnected from our tradition,” she says. “Even when he was youthful, about 12 or 13, he mentioned to me, ‘Mom, you do not perceive how onerous it’s to have a mom who had your upbringing. You’re not like each different mom.'”
Ms Niaz grew up in a nomadic community in rural Kyrgyzstan, and tries to keep her traditions alive in Boston – particularly when it comes to food. Her son, she says, is perplexed when he sees her growing her own onions.
“He may study extra about our traditions,” she adds. “Maybe he may study Russian, and even our mom tongue, the Kyrgyz language.”
If her parents were allowed to visit for a couple of months, it would help him connect with her identity – she says the travel ban made this a struggle in her life.
More about Trump’s travel ban:
- As presidential candidate in 2016, Mr Trump made tougher restrictions on immigration a central plank of his campaign
- At one point, he vowed to bring in a “whole and full shutdown of Muslims coming into the United States,” arguing it was to make the US safe from terrorism
- When he first introduced the travel ban, it sparked huge protests at airports across the US and several legal challenges
- Critics pointed to the fact most of the countries initially singled out were Muslim-majority but the White House denied the measure was targeting Muslims
- There was also criticism at the lack of transparency over the reasons why certain countries were picked