FLORENCE, Ky. -- When Hassan Shide arrived in the United States 18 years ago, fleeing conflict in his home country, he did so without his wife. The pair had grown up together in Somalia, but only he made it to the U.S. She sought refuge thousands of miles away in London.
"It was important to live the American dream and bring my whole family and raise my family here," he said Monday. "That was the main goal."
It's the main goal of many immigrants, including some who now face prosecution and separation from their children when they illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Some of those parents have been deported while their families remained in the U.S. , according to the New York Times; one, a mother of an infant girl, told CNN her daughter was taken away while she breastfed .
Shide arrived in the U.S. legally and worked to bring his wife over legally, too, but their background as Somali refugees complicated his attempts, according to immigration attorney Charleston Wang.
By the time it actually happened, years had passed. Three separate visa applications had been denied. Shide's visits to his wife in London, which he made as often as possible, had produced five children who lived an ocean away from their father.
"It was a difficult time," he said. "Imagine your own child being separated from you. It's hard. It's really hard to do that."
As of last November, Shide, his wife and their five children live legally in Florence, Kentucky. Although his story is different from those of parents who lose their children when they are arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border, he said he empathizes with immigrant parents trying to hold their families together.
"I wouldn't give up to get them here," he said of his own family.