Real People, Real Stories: Immigrants Suffer Under Trump Policies

Cruelty Is Not a Family Value

From photo by Fibonacci Blue, published under Creative Commons license.

Anti-immigrant policies, from the Muslim ban to denial of asylum applications, hurt real people. Today: several stories of individuals impacted by punitive policies.

The Muslim Ban: Trump’s Muslim ban, first imposed on January 27, 2017, was stopped by several courts. He issued two more versions, finally coming up with one that barely passed muster with the U.S. Supreme Court, based on a promise of  “a ‘robust’ waiver process would allow citizens from the blacklisted countries to enter the United States if they met certain reasonable criteria,” a promise that has been consistently broken.

“A teenage Syrian girl who survived a bombing and is in urgent need of reconstructive surgery was barred from traveling from Germany to the United States to seek medical treatment. A 7-year-old Somali boy, whose father died, was prevented from reuniting with his mother in the United States. One American citizen was forced to move to Syria in order to live with her husband, who was barred from coming to the United States. In fact, hundreds of people from Yemen alone who had already undergone vetting and received visa approval notices from the State Department have since had those approvals rescinded or been barred from traveling to the United States.”

Targeting Longtime Undocumented Immigrants: Under previous administrations, undocumented immigrants who had lived and worked and raised families  for a long time in the United States might get an extended pass. They were allowed to check in periodically with immigration officials, rather than being deported. Not under Trump. Alejandra Juarez and José are two among thousands of long-term residents deported under Trump’s zero tolerance policies.

Last year, they deported Alejandra Juarez, wife of a Marine and Iraq War veteran:

“Since the day I watched my mom board that flight to Mexico, I’ve felt a deep hole in my heart. And when my sister had to follow her a couple weeks later, that hole got bigger and bigger,” said Pamela Juarez, 17. “Every day I just worry about what’s going to happen to my mom, how’s my sister doing, because I miss them a lot.”

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, has filed a private bill to provide permanent legal status for Juarez and has introduced the Protect Patriot Spouses Act, to protect military spouses from deportation.

This month, they deported José:

“The judge explained the law and what José would have to prove in order to win. Before hiring us, José had submitted an application, on his own, for “cancellation of removal.” There are four elements: He had to prove that he had been living here for more than 10 years, that he was a person of good moral character and that he hadn’t broken any laws that would bar him under the statutes from applying. José could show all of these things. But the fourth criterion is the hardest. José would have to prove that if he were deported, it would cause an “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a spouse, parent or child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Usually it means you have a child with cancer, or a spouse with a disability that makes them unable to work or support a family — something on that scale. If you can convince the court merely that your family would be made homeless or that your children would subsist on food stamps, that is not considered sufficient. That is just the usual hardship that deportees’ families experience.

“Without missing a beat, José said to the judge, “I have the first three, your honor, but I do not have the fourth.” Turning around to look at his family, with obvious pride, he told the judge: “This is my family. These are my children. Everything I do, I do for them. But thankfully they are all healthy, which for the moment seems for some reason to be bad.” Truly, logic has no place in immigration court.”

Not yet deported, but still among the victims of Trumpian policies: undocumented workers at Trump businesses. On January 18, about a dozen undocumented employees, who had worked at Trump National Golf Club in New York for years, were fired.

“Some were trusted enough to hold the keys to Eric Trump’s weekend home. They were experienced enough to know that, when Donald Trump ordered chicken wings, they were to serve him two orders on one plate….

“We’re just working. How can they take our taxes, charge us for this or that, and not give us any rights?” Cruz said. “When they take our taxes, we count as people. Why don’t we count in other things?”

“She said, “We don’t exist.”

Denying Asylum: Asylum has always been tough to get. Now it is getting tougher, and denials mean deportation rather than discretionary relief.

In 2017, at a routine check-in with immigration, Llukan Buta was deported—away from his pregnant U.S. citizen wife and their two-year-old daughter. He had lived in the United States since his parents brought the then-11-year-old boy here from Albania in 1998, seeking refuge from civil war.

“The consequences, both financial and emotional, of Buta being absent are dire for Joseph, who is also battling multiple sclerosis. While she recently started a new treatment that keeps most of her symptoms in check, the stress not only exacerbates the exhaustion and weakness that accompany the disease, but it also imperils her ability to raise two young kids on her own.“

Ending DACA: While courts have prevented Trump from ending DACA completely, no new applications are allowed. That means all Dreamers who were younger than 15 in September are not allowed to apply. Dreamers like now-17-year-old Maria Lopez, who had not yet scraped up the $500+ that it cost to apply before the cut-off are also barred.

“Maria Lopez is a 17-year-old with an almost perfect GPA. She’s involved with after-school clubs and community organizations. She attends a top Dallas ISD magnet high school and is likely an ideal candidate for some elite universities….

“[S]he’s among a new generation of possibly more than 250,000 kids around the country who were too young or never made initial requests for DACA before President Donald Trump tried to rescind the program. They now face a life of being stuck in the shadows, unable to legally work or live normal lives.”


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet,, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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