The proposal to build a more expansive wall along the US-Mexico border is one of the more repeated vows of the Donald Trump presidency. The argument goes that a physical barrier will, naturally, block would-be migrants from coming to the US. At the same time, other walls already exist — not as easily seen by the wider public. They come in many forms, including no-fly lists and limits placed on certain visas, as well as rising costs and sheer difficulty.
With every type of visa and travel document, there are rules that allow some people in and keep others out. These barriers can exist far from the US border, or deep within the country.
The reality is, these invisible walls can be even tougher to breach than concrete slabs for people who are trying to visit or live in the US, lawfully or not. These are stories about people who come up against these walls and defeat them — or are stopped in their tracks.
Edited by Angilee Shah, Monica Campbell, Alex Newman, Marnette Federis and Jonathan Kealing. Series illustration by Sam Ward and graphic art by Dan Carino, with interactive design by Kuang Keng Kuek Ser.
Since 2014, some Central American youth were given temporary permission to join their parents in the US. The government acknowledged the danger they were in. But now, the Trump administration has canceled the programs that brought them. Meet one family, who waited 15 years to reunite, but whose time is almost up.
The Trump administration wants immigrants to stop using public benefits, but many immigrants are already severely restricted from receiving assistance with food, health and child care. Even when they are at their most vulnerable.
The US and Canada share information from their no-fly lists, but there’s very little Canadians can do if they think they’re being flagged and delayed from boarding flights in error. It’s not just an inconvenience — it’s stigmatizing.