In early 2017, immigrants in Kentucky faced a statewide panic due to the travel bans that were implemented at the start of the year. According to CNN, reports from the White House originally said that green card holders would not be affected. However, the statement was allegedly later changed to say green card holders of the banned countries would indeed be affected.
Despite the fact that the specific countries banned were explicitly named, interpretation of the ban was largely left up to the agents enforcing them. As a result, several news reports began to circle regarding American citizens who were also affected by the ban due to family ties, business or leisure travel plans involving the affected countries. Immigrants from other countries then waited with bated breath to see what immigration policies might follow that would include them.
By March 2017, CNN reported that Mexicans, who were not specifically targeted by the ban, were taking proactive action. This mostly involved the application for dual citizenship for U.S born children of foreign ancestry. Mexican consulates in Atlanta, Miami, San Francisco, New York and Philadelphia all reported a spike in dual citizenship applications that started with not just the travel bans, but the transition of power following the 2016 presidential election.
Parents who were undocumented immigrants were especially concerned that in the event of a deportation they would be separated from their children and wanted to keep their options open. One family shared with CNN that they had already made arrangements for boarding of their children in America, should they be deported, and that they had discussed the possibility of separation. Some have even drafted documents to provide legal custody to a trusted family or friend in America.
Two years later, many immigrant families in America, both legal and illegal, are living in a constant state of fear. For some, that fear has now become normalized to the point where they do not even think about it anymore. All the plans have been set and the rest is a waiting game. But, for the others, it is a feeling of constant panic about whether or not they may have to say goodbye to wives, husbands, children, mothers and fathers.