From the moment Donald Trump descended the infamous escalator in 2015, he made clear his intention to terrorize immigrants. Four years later, the enduring images of his presidency were outdoor cages packed with migrant families and kids being ripped from their parents’ arms. Then came impeachment, and COVID, and an economic crash, and election season. Judging by cable news and front-page headlines, immigration had been largely forgotten. 

But not by the Mauritanian electrician who was deported after 20 years in the United States to a country that still has slavery. Or the Indian coder afraid to unpack the boxes in his New York apartment for fear that he could be forced out at any moment. Or the Iraqi woman who stopped getting food stamps for her baby in order to preserve her husband’s shot at a green card.

The immigration system, already flawed and arbitrary before Trump, has become something much crueler, with repercussions far beyond the Mexican border. 

Congress’ decades-long failure to pass immigration legislation has ceded virtually all decision-making to the president, and so immigrants find themselves at the mercy of whoever is in the White House. This administration has shown them none. 

Here, we share the stories—in their own words—of eight would-be Americans who ran into Trump’s crackdown on legal and unauthorized immigration. In some cases, their futures hinge on what happens next Tuesday. For others, the results of the election are moot. It’s already too late.

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AN IMPORTANT UPDATE

We’re falling behind our online fundraising goals and we can’t sustain coming up short on donations month after month. Perhaps you’ve heard? It is impossibly hard in the news business right now, with layoffs intensifying and fancy new startups and funding going kaput.

The crisis facing journalism and democracy isn’t going away anytime soon. And neither is Mother Jones, our readers, or our unique way of doing in-depth reporting that exists to bring about change.

Which is exactly why, despite the challenges we face, we just took a big gulp and joined forces with The Center for Investigative Reporting, a team of ace journalists who create the amazing podcast and public radio show Reveal.

If you can part with even just a few bucks, please help us pick up the pace of donations. We simply can’t afford to keep falling behind on our fundraising targets month after month.

Editor-in-Chief Clara Jeffery said it well to our team recently, and that team 100 percent includes readers like you who make it all possible: “This is a year to prove that we can pull off this merger, grow our audiences and impact, attract more funding and keep growing. More broadly, it’s a year when the very future of both journalism and democracy is on the line. We have to go for every important story, every reader/listener/viewer, and leave it all on the field. I’m very proud of all the hard work that’s gotten us to this moment, and confident that we can meet it.”

Let’s do this. If you can right now, please support Mother Jones and investigative journalism with an urgently needed donation today.

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