By Josh Leach on February 14, 2020
The Trump administration has been justly condemned for its policy of separating parents and children at the border; sadly, however, that is only one of many ways this government’s policies keep families apart. Since 2017, multiple versions of Trump’s refugee and travel bans have arbitrarily blocked people from reuniting with their family members abroad—just because of where they come from.
Ismail Alghazali is one person who experienced this directly. A U.S. citizen of Yemeni heritage, he petitioned to bring his wife and two children to the United States through a standard family-based immigration process.
In testimony before Congress on September 24, 2019, he described how he and his wife waited two years for an interview with U.S. officials, only to be told that she and their two young children would be denied entry because she was a Yemeni national. As a result, he has never been able to see their infant daughter in person.
He told Congress: I do not have words to describe my love for my wife and my kids. It hurts me so much that it’s now been more than a year since I’ve seen my family. Hend, Khaled, Rahf and I – we’re separated from each other by thousands of miles because of President Trump’s Muslim Ban.
On January 31, 2020, the Trump administration announced that it was expanding the travel ban to six additional countries. In the case of four of these—Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar (Burma), and Kyrgyzstan—the ban would deny all forms of long-term immigration visas to people hoping to settle permanently in the United States. There is no exception from this rule for family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents—not even spouses or children.
This means that thousands more families like Alghazali’s will remain separated from each other across borders and oceans. As UUSC’s partner The UndocuBlack Network put it, responding to the travel ban expansion: “Behind these bans and visa sanctions are real people with real families—facing the pain and uncertainty that family separation brings.”
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate and be near our loved ones, partners, and spouses. Yet innumerable innocent people will soon be denied this blessing and this right, if Trump’s travel bans are allowed to remain in effect.
Congress can end this injustice by passing the NO BAN Act (H.R. 2214), which would overturn Trump’s travel bans and ensure that no president is able to impose such discriminatory policies in future. On Wednesday, February 12, the House Judiciary Committee marked up the bill, clearing the last hurdle before it can be placed on the House floor for a vote. We are encouraged by this forward progress.
UUSC has repeatedly called on Congress before to pass the NO BAN Act in both the House and the Senate. Now, with the bill’s recent movement in the House, it is closer to becoming law than ever. It is time for UUSC members to lend our voice once more to help push this bill across the finish line.
Make this Valentine’s Day a truly special one by helping other couples and loved ones spend their holidays together. You can take action here to urge your representatives to pass the NO BAN Act into law.
Photo Credit: iStock – FatCamera
About UUSC: Guided by the belief that all people have inherent worth and dignity, UUSC advances human rights globally by partnering with affected communities who are confronting injustice, mobilizing to challenge oppressive systems, and inspiring and sustaining spiritually grounded activism for justice. We invite you to join us in this journey toward realizing a better future!