Why Trump’s immigration policies will be so hard to change

A demonstration against Trump’s border wall in Calexico, California, 2019 Guillermo Arias/AFP/Getty Images

The president’s environmental agenda could take years to unwind, but the families targeted by it don’t have that long

By Tessa Stuart | Rolling Stone

President Donald Trump flew Friday to visit newly built fencing on the Mexican border, even as he retreated from a threat to shut the frontier over what he says is an out-of-control influx of migrants and drugs. 

“The moment Trump became a presidential candidate, I was worried because of what his campaign promoted,” Elsa Valle says. “And the moment he was elected, I was sure he would accomplish it.”

A 42-year-old mother of two, Valle was a machine operator at the same New Jersey company for 20 years until the virus shut its doors a few months ago. A native of El Salvador who came to the United States without papers, Valle has been protected from deportation since 2001, when George W. Bush granted Temporary Protected Status — a classification that prohibits deportation to countries devastated by war or natural disasters — to Salvadorans like herself and her husband. The couple’s eldest son later became a recipient of DACA, the Obama-era policy intended to help undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children gain legal status. Their youngest son is a U.S. citizen.

In September, the day after a circuit court affirmed the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status not just for Salvadorans, but Nicaraguan, Haitian, Sudanese, Honduran, and Nepalese immigrants, Valle held back tears. “My whole life I’ve worked, my husband has worked,” she says. “We contributed to Social Security and always paid our taxes. We’ve never needed help.”

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