Trump’s Muslim ban is tearing apart families

“He’s essentially kicking out a lot of families from the U.S. I’m very sad, very heartbroken by what he did.”

A woman affected by the ban shows off her sign in passing during a protest of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia. CREDIT: AP Photo/Corey Perrine
A woman affected by the ban shows off her sign in passing during a protest of President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia. CREDIT: AP Photo/Corey Perrine

President Donald Trump’s Muslim ban is tearing apart families across the world.

The executive order, which Trump signed on Friday, has led to widespread confusion in the last three days about how it applies to those who already have legal visas, those who are dual nationals, and those who have green cards.

ThinkProgress spoke to some of those affected. Here are their stories:

Roozbeh Aliabadi

Roozbeh Aliabadi, a former consultant and soon-to-be PhD student in international relations, told ThinkProgress that the order is keeping him from his wife, who lives in Iran.

Roozbeh said he met his wife there about a couple years ago. They had a legal marriage in Iran in June of last year, and decided to hold off on having a small ceremony with friends and family until his wife was able to come to the states.

Her application for permanent residency was approved on January 17, just three days before Trump’s inauguration, and they were informed that she needs an immigrant visa to enter the country. But since Trump’s order, it’s no longer clear that she will be able to come at all.

“We wanted to start our life together. She’s an architect, I was in consulting business, soon-to-be PhD student. We can’t do it,” he said. “I haven’t seen my wife for about seven months, and this, in a way, gives us two options. Number 1: I have to move out of the U.S. Or we have to get divorced. I don’t think the latter is an option.”

“If this continues, he’s not forbidding people to come over here. He’s essentially kicking out a lot of families from the U.S.,” said Roozbeh. “I’m very sad, very heartbroken by what he did.”

“I told my wife, Mr. Trump gave me another reason to love you more. This is definitely not going to change our relationship. It might make it physically more distant, but we’ll get through this as well.”

Taif Jany

Taif Jany, a policy coordinator at the People for the American Way, a progressive non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., said the order is also keeping him from his family.

Taif, an Iraqi green card holder, told ThinkProgress that his family is scattered all over the world, and he is the only one in the United States.

“They’re basically saying that we should not leave the country until further notice,” Taif said on Saturday. “I hadn’t seen my family in over 12 years, my mom and my sister especially, and I just got to see them right before the inauguration. I got back right before that.”

“Although I was fortunate enough to go and see them — I was waiting for so long to get my green card, and I got it, and I did use it — but now I’m facing the same feeling of instability as well as the fear of not seeing my family whenever I want, until further notice.”

“I know my situation is obviously a lot better than many other immigrants in the country. It just seems like his earlier [comments] targeted against illegal immigrants, or undocumented immigrants, was really just a lie. His attacks, it seems like, are more generalizing.”

Samira

Samira,* an Iranian student in Boston, told ThinkProgress she’s worried about leaving the country for her wedding since the order was announced. Samira said she was in the United States on Optional Practical Training (OPT), which gives eligible students studying in the United States the right to work in the country, either before or after finishing their studies, for an additional 12 months.

“I came to the U.S. on a student visa, thinking that I’m going to just get my education in the U.S., probably just go back to Iran, and that will be it,” said Samira. “You never know. I met this guy, we fell in love.”

“We’re planning this lovely beautiful wedding in Portugal. Everyone’s buying their tickets. Everything’s being planned. Money’s being spent. Everything,” she said on Saturday, before the DHS order that green card holders will be allowed to return on a case-by-case basis. “I’m planning on having a green card by then, but I might not be able to attend the wedding, because if I get a green card by then, what if I can’t come back to the U.S.?”

Nima

Nima,* an Iranian PhD student in the United States, also told ThinkProgress that many people in the country on a student visa are concerned about their status under OPT.

“It’s not just about the entry, it’s about the status of our visas,” Nima said. “A lot of students’ OPT will be ending in one month, or in two weeks, and then these people will be out of status. They’ll become undocumented. It’s that simple. In two months, they’ll be undocumented.”

Nima said that he was thinking about quitting his studies in the country and pursuing them elsewhere as a result of the order.

Dana

Dana,* a Libyan-Greek student pursuing her undergraduate degree in the United States, told ThinkProgress she wouldn’t be leaving the country any time soon.

“I can’t leave the country, because I won’t be able to go back, even though it’s a multiple-entry visa.”

Over the weekend, the White House said that some visa holders will be able to return on a case by case basis, after going through additional screening at a U.S. embassy. There is confusion about whether this is still the case, but there is no U.S. embassy in many of the countries targeted by the order. Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Syria have not had a U.S. embassy for years.

“The American embassy was closed in Libya of course,” Dana said, when she applied for her student visa. “I had to go to Cairo, and stay there for four months. It’s really a process. I was in touch with my university here, and you have to go through these interviews with the embassy. They ask you what your plans are for the future, what sources of funding you have, and what you plan to do with free time, a bunch of different questions. And then they ask you to come back for a different interview.”

“I was going to see [my family] this summer. I’m having to put them on hold until I know for sure that I can come back.”

These are just a sampling of those affected by Trump’s Muslim ban. One Iranian student told ThinkProgress he was turned away from boarding his flight back to the United States. He paid a fee to change his flight to a different airline, hoping it would let him on, but was refused again. Another Iranian man said he and his wife had been going through the process for her to immigrate here for two years, and this week she was informed her interview was cancelled until further notice.

Others have parents, grandparents, family, and friends stuck in different countries. Their stories are everywhere.

*Where noted, names have been changed to protect the privacy of those impacted.