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Travel ban affects Rolla family

Maia Bond, Staff Writer

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On Jan. 27, President Donald Trump signed an executive order that sent shock waves across the country, stating that people from seven countries including Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Yemen Syria, and Sudan, were unable to come into the United States. The ban included dual citizenship, visas, and other formally legal ways of entering the country, such as green cards, although not explicitly mentioned in the order. It also barred entry of any refugees for at least 120 days. Since then the order has been suspended, but many people are still unable to receive visas to come to the United States if they wish to see family members or vacation.

The ban, although suspended right now, is affecting families across the nation, even here in Rolla. Junior High counselor Becky Snodgrass spoke about how the ban has affected her family.

“It’s pretty personal because my daughter-in-law is from Iran, and she has her green card and has been here [the United States] for five years, it’s just a process to become a citizen,” Snodgrass said.

Her daughter-in-law is living in the US [Chicago] now now, but her family lives in Iran and she travels out of the country often.

“She has what is called a Global Entry Membership, which is a TSA pre-approved membership that makes it quick and easy so she doesn’t have to be checked each time at the airport. They cancelled that, but later changed it back,” Snodgrass said.

There were several reports of green card holders not being allowed into the country and others being sent away in the airports. That has changed since the hectic weekend of the order, but the fear and unknowing of if the ban will stay suspended remains.

“The unknowing, the up and down with this has been pretty disturbing,” Snodgrass said.

Her daughter in law is already here though, and has been for years. The bigger issue is her family living in Iran that visits her regularly.

“Her mother is a teacher at a university in Tehran, she teaches chemistry. Her sister is sixteen, and last time she came here to visit she wanted to stay and go to school in Rolla. They can’t now. What they’ve done for the past few summers is her mom and sister come to Chicago from June to mid-August and then her dad comes for a few weeks, and they all go back together. That is not happening,” Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass tells about a common defense of the ban and how it cannot apply to this situation of a blanket ban, in her opinion.

“What people don’t understand is that in the past, with President Obama, all these people were investigated and looked into. It is not like everybody can get on a plane and come over here, it’s a long process. People have already been vetted and looked into,” Snodgrass said.

She explains the extensive process of receiving visas for her daughter in law’s family, and how it is not even an available option to establish appointments right now.

“It’s not like you can just come to the United States from Iran, you have to apply for a visa. So
they have to go to either Turkey or Dubai to get a visa. You apply for your visa, pay your fees, wait to see if you can get it, then you can come to the United States. For my daughter-in-law’s family, it’s a big deal because they have to take off work and buy airline tickets to travel,” Snodgrass said.

Since the immigration ban has been suspended, it is expected that visas will be available for citizens of the seven countries, but that is sadly not the case.

“There has been a temporary stay on the ban; it still isn’t open to establish a time to apply for a visa. My daughter in law’s family have had visas before. This is not the first time,” Snodgrass said, “my family has an appointment set up for March, but that may change if President Trump issues another ban.

However sad and scary the situation is, her family being in limbo, the case is the same or worse for international families everywhere, especially international students at universities much like MS&T. Snodgrass recognizes that this is about more than her family’s struggle by mentioning how many other families are stuck in this limbo as well.

“It hits close to home because I know these people, but when I think about refugees and students at the university, I don’t think we can just put a blanket ban on people of certain nationalities,” Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass is right to think about students at the university being affected by the immigration ban. 13% of the total campus population are international students. That doesn’t count the number of students with families living in the banned countries, although the students may be citizens or have a form of visa or green card. Not only does the ban create justifiable unrest among students, it discourages them from pursuing careers and futures in the United States and potentially causes them to return to their home country. Financially, this could deeply affect the income of not only the university in Rolla, but every college in the United States. Thousands of people start as international students and go on to pursue innovative and high paying jobs in the United States, resulting in paying high taxes. Without even most of the international students that study here, the country and its universities will suffer.

Snodgrass’s story is only one of hundreds in just the town of Rolla. The ban, although suspended right now, is leaving families across America in a scared in between state that they can’t do much to fix. She has taken action in small ways that she hasn’t done in the past to show her support for the immigration ban to stay suspended.

“I’ve never been a politically active person, but I’m stepping it up now because there are a lot of things I’m not pleased with,” Snodgrass said.

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Travel ban affects Rolla family