President Donald Trump has made reshaping the United States immigration policies a top priority since he announced his plans to run for president in 2015. His immigration policy is centered around six major areas: the completion of the border wall for Mexico, the deportation of immigrants, the restriction of travel and work visas, the increasing screening of refugees, the H-1B visa program and the curbing of legal immigration.
Many of Trump’s policies affect immigrant families. Some parents are forced to take on the roles as a mother and a father due to their spouses being deported.
Abimbola Oyemade, an alien resident, is currently going through the immigration process for her husband to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. to be reunited with his family. Alien residents are foreign people who are permanent residents of the country they reside in but do not have citizenship.
“I have been trying to get my husband to the United States for a little over two years now,” Oyemade said. “I have two children, one who I recently gave birth to three months ago. Without my husband here, between caring for my children and work, I barely get any sleep. I am constantly exhausted.”
One of the most frustrating aspects for immigrant families is the amount of time it takes to get approved, Oyemade said.
“It took them 19 months to approve my petition and seven months to process the other paperwork they asked for,” she said. “I recently had an interview, and they still wanted more papers. I wish they would’ve told me before the interview, so I could’ve gotten them ready. Now, I don’t know when I’ll get another interview.”
According to immigrant advocacy groups, Trump’s travel ban affects more than 135 million people. Community activist Gabrielle Jones stated that she had to wait almost three years to see her grandmother due to Trump’s policy. She believes that the policy is ultimately detrimental.
“Trump’s immigration policy will have long-lasting deep effects,”Davis said. “He is making it hard for people to escape countries and places where they can be killed for being themselves with his travel ban. The policy is not very reflective of the, so called, land of the free.”
The Trump administration also focuses on limiting who can apply for asylum, a legal process in which people fleeing persecution in their home country may seek safety in the U.S.
According to requirements ruled by the U.N. Convention on Refugees in 1951, and adopted by the U.S., applicants for asylum must meet three requirements: prove they have a “reasonable fear” of being persecuted in their home country, fear persecution because of race, political opinion or religion and prove their government’s involvement or lack of control in the persecution.
At the beginning of 2018, the administration introduced more strict guidelines for passing the credible fear interview. When immigrants request asylum, they are first given a credible fear test. According to news reports, a clause in the new interpretation of credible fear was changed to consider the “demeanor, candor and responsiveness” in applicants.
Immigration lawyers have told VOA News that trauma and difference in culture in addition to the journey from their home country to the U.S. can cause fear.
“I think the policy is very unfair,” said Sarah Wheeler, director of the IUP master’s degree in public affairs. “It is not allowing people who want to apply for asylum to easily do that. He’s just making things very difficult for people who’ve had a hard life and now want to seek some kind of sanctuary.”