Photos of a Divided America

For much of the past year, Associated Press photographers have been gathering images of the people and places at the heart of multiple issues dividing Americans this election year. Covering issues like immigration, health care, climate change, social upheaval, energy policy and more, these photographers have put faces on some of the stories of those most deeply affected by recent changes and the decision to be made on election day, November 8. The following essay is a broad snapshot of the United States, including troubled lobstermen in Maine, families split by a border wall in California, coal miners fearing for their futures in West Virginia, Christians and Muslims grappling with their faith in 21st century America, and much more. [42 photos total]

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Young people hold hands for a prayer during a gathering at sunset outside the Christian Fellowship Church in Benton, Kentucky, n April 10, 2016. Nearly a quarter of Americans say they no longer affiliate with a faith tradition. It's the highest share ever recorded in surveys, indicating the stigma for not being religious has eased, even in heavily evangelical areas. Americans who say they have no ties to organized religion, dubbed "nones," now make up about 23 percent of the population, just behind evangelicals, who comprise about 25 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. (David Goldman / AP) #
Hannah Shraim, 17, affixes her hijab that she bought to match a special prom dress she ordered from a Turkish website that specializes in modest fashion, as she prepares to attend Northwest High School's senior prom, in Germantown, Maryland, on May 13, 2016. Senior class president and an observant Muslim, Shraim prays five times a day and hopes to become an advocate for Muslims in the United States. After convincing her parents that she was ready for the responsibility of wearing the hijab, she began wearing the Islamic headscarf in the 10th grade. It was a decision her parents were concerned about due to their fears of how strangers might treat her. "If Trump becomes the president then not just Muslims but a lot of people will live in fear of the future for themselves and their children," says Shraim, "given the scapegoating technique of pushing out minorities rather than focusing on how we can benefit everyone." (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) #
Hannah Shraim, center, playfully poses with Ashley Riddle, right, as their prom group poses for a "fun" photograph for their parents in Germantown, Maryland, before attending their senior prom for Northwest High School on May 13, 2016. Shraim and Riddle both went to prom solo while the others in the group brought dates. Shraim ordered her prom dress from a Turkish website that specializes in modest fashion. Although not the only Muslim attending her diverse high school’s prom, she was the only student wearing a hijab among the hundreds of sequined dancers that evening. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) #
Shawn Wathen stands for a photo inside his bookstore in Hamilton, Montana, on April 14, 2016. Wathen, who has called the sprawling Bitterroot Valley home for 20 years, sees the rejection of refugees as a blend of misinformation, economic anxiety and fear of the unknown. "It surpasses any notion of reason ... that kind of idea that they are not us, and therefore they pose a threat,” he says. “There's just that sense the horde is out there and if we don't circle the wagons ... we're going to be overrun and poor white America is going to suffer." (Brennan Linsley / AP) #
Richard Sawyer, Jr. tosses back an undersized lobster while fishing on Long Island Sound off Groton, Connecticut, on April 27, 2016. Sawyer, a third-generation lobsterman, fears there won't be enough lobster for his sons and grandsons to work as fishermen. He is one of only a half-dozen lobstermen working in an area of the Sound that he says once had 75. Many fisherman have quit because of the dwindling lobster populations. Sawyer blames pollution from sewage treatment plants, pesticides and warming waters caused by climate change. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP) #
Eel grass grows in sediment at Lowell's Cove in Harpswell, Maine, on May 8, 2016, where marine biologist Diane Cowan has been recording data on juvenile lobsters for the past 24 years. Cowan says the rise of sea level has ruined some of her sites, including this once rocky location. Dr. Cowan is saddened by the some the abrupt changes brought on by global warming that she has witnessed while collecting data on lobsters. “Biology works by change and evolution. And we need to understand this,” she said. The goal of her research for the Lobster Conservancy is to maintain a strong and healthy lobster population which is vital to coastal Maine communities. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP) #
Musician "Deacon" John Moore plays his guitar in New Orleans on April 12, 2016. At 74, he remembers a time when America was headed in the right direction, when everything seemed to be coming together. It was in the 1960s, when black people like himself were seeing an end to racial segregation; when women were gaining equality; when politicians were taking a stand to end poverty despite the turmoil of protests over the Vietnam War. "Those were the best years," said Moore. "And then they were destroyed right before my very eyes when they assassinated all of our leaders. Robert Kennedy. John Kennedy. Martin Luther King. Malcom X. All of our leaders. And, you know, that was the end of hope. We had no more hope." (Jay Reeves / AP) #
Billy Inman and his wife Kathy visit the grave of their son Dustin on his birthday, May 23, 2016, in Woodstock, Georgia. A Mexican national in the United States illegally crashed his vehicle into one driven by Billy who had stopped for a red light in 2000. The impact killed the Inman’s 16-year-old son Dustin and the family dog and left Kathy with serious injuries. In the wake of Dustin's death, the Inmans have become involved in seeking stricter enforcement of laws to combat illegal immigration. (David Goldman / AP) #
Kathy Inman hangs her head after releasing balloons in honor of her deceased son's birthday with her husband Billy, left, at their home in Woodstock, Georgia, on May 23, 2016. "I miss the hugs. I always got a hug from my son before going to bed," said Billy. "Breaks my heart he's been gone 16 years and nothing else has been done. His killer is still walking around. It's not right." (David Goldman / AP) #
In this May 19, 2016 photo, Kimberly Jung, 29, poses for a photo in Chicago. A veteran of the war in Afghanistan, she believes, "... greatness is a responsibility. It’s a dual state of mind in which you know your power or you know what resources you have but also your weaknesses. And you harness that set of strengths and weaknesses to work with a group and form a team and do great things." (Teresa Crawford / AP) #
Ralph Caldwell talks to his cattle at his farm in Turner, Maine, on May 26, 2016. Caldwell blames the government's ethanol subsidies for driving up corn prices, making it too expensive to buy feed for his cows and forcing him out of the dairy business. He now raises organic beef cattle, and also sells loam, firewood and cow manure. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP) #
Ralph Caldwell, right, talks with a farmhand while making the rounds at his farm in Turner, Maine, on May 30, 2016. The family farm has been in operation for the last 65 years. Caldwell has taken just one vacation - for a daughter's wedding - during his farming career. (Robert F. Bukaty / AP) #
Samir Bitar, Arabic studies professor at the University of Montana, walks to his class on campus in Missoula, Montana, on April 13, 2016. Bitar, a Palestinian who moved to Montana as a 16-year-old to attend college in Missoula, finds current anti-Muslim sentiments in the U.S. disheartening. People now are “motivated by pure emotion and not really thinking in logical terms,” he says. “Fear turns into hatred.” (Brennan Linsley / AP) #
Using the light from a lantern in the dark night, Monica Hicks, 47, of Meadowview, Virginia, left, and her daughter Heather Romans, 28, get ready to sleep in their car overnight so that they will have good ticket numbers to attend the free Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinic the next morning, in Smyth County, Virginia, on April 28, 2016. Hicks, who needs glasses and has no vision coverage, is attending RAM with her daughter, who needs major dental work, to have their dental and vision care needs met free of charge. Romans suffers from Muscular Dystrophy which can impact dental health. She has dental insurance coverage that provides 80% of fees but needs so many of her teeth pulled that she can not afford to cover the remaining 20% herself. RAM provides free medical care for low income people and to people who do not have health insurance in several states across the country. Specializing in free dental, vision, and medical care in isolated and poverty stricken communities, the group sets up mobile medical centers and is having their 800th such event this year. "I've done foreign volunteer missions before," says volunteer dentist Mark Copas, "but never domestic. These cases are just as bad as what I've seen in third world countries." (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) #
Randi Honaker, left, and Kayla Rose, volunteer dental hygiene students, show an x-ray of the mouth of Heather Romans, 28, in dental chair, to volunteer oral surgeon Neil Hollyfield, of Marion, Virginia, as he evaluates which teeth need to be extracted during the first Remote Area Medical clinic in Smyth County, Virginia, on April 29, 2016. Eight of her teeth were removed during the clinic. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) #
Fabiola Vejar, right, registers Stephanie Cardenas to vote in front of a Latino supermarket in Las Vegas on June 9, 2016. Shielded from deportation under an Obama administration program that protects those brought to the country illegally as children, Vejar, 18, cannot vote. So she volunteers with Mi Familia Vota, encouraging others to be heard at the ballot box. "I don’t have that voice," she says, "but there's other people... who feel the way I do. They should vote." (John Locher / AP) #
Denise Wilkes plays her guitar in protest of Planned Parenthood in Birmingham, Alabama, on May 24, 2016. Wilkes, 46, an anti-abortion, Christian musician and mother, had two abortion procedures when she was young, and now says she has had a change of heart and regrets her past decisions. "I want people to see me as God sees me - a broken and lost vessel who made a lot of bad choices, including abortion, and was in need of a Savior. I have His forgiveness of sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus," she says. Wilkes now plays her guitar in front of Planned Parenthood in an effort to go into an area filled with death and release the sound of life through music and also to face her own past, she says. (Brynn Anderson / AP) #
Young Judson Taylor, center, mimics his mother Rachel Taylor, left, as they pray for a church member in the living room of their home church on May 22, 2016, in Birmingham, Alabama. (Brynn Anderson / AP) #
In this March 27, 2016 photo, Craig House, 32, stands in front of his home in St. Louis. He lives with his grandmother in an area with burned-out buildings and abandoned schools not far from a hip, trendy part of town. “America has always been great, just not for me and my people. For us it's been the worst ever," he says. "People come from all over the world, Arabs own this, that. Black man don't own nothing." (Robin McDowell / AP) #
Richie Clendenen, lead pastor at Christian Fellowship Church, holds his son Trey, 11, after returning home from conducting an evening service, in Benton, Kentucky, on April 10, 2016. "I feel like we're being made to accept everything that everybody else has said," explained Clendenen, "but at the same time our ideas, the truth that we hold so dear and the word of God isn't being tolerated whatsoever." (David Goldman / AP) #
Parishioner Megan Wagner bows her head in prayer during a service at the Christian Fellowship Church in Benton, Kentucky. on April 10, 2016. Many evangelicals say liberals want to seal their cultural victory by silencing the church. Liberals call this paranoid. But evangelicals see evidence of the threat in every new uproar over someone asserting a right to refuse recognition of same-sex marriages, whether it be a baker, a government clerk, or the leaders of religious charities and schools. (David Goldman / AP) #
Tim Foley speaks with a Border Patrol agent during a surveillance patrol in Sasabe, Arizona, on May 11, 2016. Foley, a former construction foreman, founded Arizona Border Recon, a group of armed volunteers who dedicate themselves to border surveillance. (Gregory Bull / AP) #
In this May 11, 2016 picture, Tim Foley talks to journalist Marcie Mieko Kagawa near where a section of the border wall separating Mexico and the United States ends in Sasabe, Arizona, Foley, a former construction foreman, founded Arizona Border Recon, a group of armed volunteers who dedicate themselves to border surveillance. (Gregory Bull / AP) #
Ray Hawk, a Ravalli County commissioner, speaks during an interview in Hamilton, Montana, on April 14, 2016. “These are folks that have declared war on the United States,” he says, worried that terrorists could pose as refugees. “Their war is terrorism and that’s the way they’re going to do it. And I don’t feel that we need to give them that chance. Now, if the government gets a handle on this thing and has a way to vet these people, I’m all for them. I love to see anybody come into America and succeed.” (Brennan Linsley / AP) #
In this April 28, 2016 picture, Maribel Solache kisses her daughter on their way to school in San Marcos, California. A former Mexico City lawyer, Solache crossed the border illegally 12 years ago because of the country’s drug violence. (Gregory Bull / AP) #
Maribel Solache watches her son from her rearview mirror after dropping him off at his high school on April 28, 2016, in San Marcos, California, Moments before, Solache had been chatting and laughing with her son, like any mom, but her light-heartedness changed after he got out and the distance grew between them. “I cannot imagine my life without my kids, without my husband, and I am so afraid to be separated from them - in front of them - like for example if immigration stops me or the police stop me,” she said. "But I also fear bringing my kids back to Mexico, because the situation is terrible there." A former Mexico City lawyer, Solache crossed the border illegally 12 years ago because of the country’s drug violence. (Gregory Bull / AP) #
Tony Vargas, candidate for the Nebraska legislature, campaigns in a Mexican restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 12, 2016. While campaigning in the heavily Latino neighborhoods of south Omaha, Vargas, whose parents came from Peru, has talked with numerous people afraid to participate in democracy. Some felt shunned or confused when they once attempted to vote. Others have misconceptions about the legal requirements to do so. Some simply believe their vote doesn't matter. Though Hispanics now make up 10 percent of Nebraska's population, there is not a single Latino lawmaker in its Legislature. (Nati Harnik / AP) #
Brooks Brunson holds his son's hands in prayer during "children's prayers" as the family attends church at Capitol Hill United Methodist Church in Washington, DC, on May 8, 2016. Married in 2013, Brooks Brunson and Gregg Pitts always knew they wanted to have a family together, and were delighted when they were able to start the adoption process for their son shortly after beginning to look for a match in 2015. The District of Columbia legalized gay marriage in 2010. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) #
Gregg Pitts, left, and Brooks Brunson play with their son, Thomas Brunson-Pitts, 6 months, during "tummy time" before heading to work, while in their home in Washington, on May 19, 2016. The child's birth mother had no problem with a same-sex couple adopting the baby. "We're an interracial same-sex couple family," says Brunson, "But our day-to-day life is picking up dry cleaning, getting to work on time, making sure Thomas has his bottle prepared - we're the most boring people I know. But then when I take a step back I realize we are very unique. But I believe this is exactly where God wants me to be." (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) #
Karen Fagan shares a laugh with an attendee while participating in an interfaith community event on May 8, 2016, in Pomona, California, Fagan's ex-husband, Harry Bowman, the father of her two daughters, was killed in the previous year's terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, But the tragic event didn't change her beliefs, and she began participating in interfaith community events. Fagan still thinks that the county should accept Muslim refugees. "America is full of lots of different people from lots of different places," said Fagan. "It saddens me that America is no longer the place where people can come to escape oppression... It's our obligation as Americans and Christians." (Jae C. Hong / AP) #
Duncan Wallace plays golf in Vista, California, on May 4, 2016. Wallace, who owns a medical supplies company, said he’s been a conservative for 50 years, ever since he read Barry Goldwater’s book, “Conscience of a Conservative." “I think we punish success, actually,” he said. “I know a lot of people who are quite successful, and they are paying an awful lot of money in taxes. They are paying for people who don’t have their oar in the water.” (Gregory Bull / AP) #
In this May 4, 2016 picture, Duncan Wallace displays a picture of himself and his wife standing alongside former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson on May 4, 2016, in Vista, California. (Gregory Bull / AP) #
Gloria Roark, a vocal opponent of refugees coming to her state, drives near her ranch land outside Clearwater, Montana, on April 12, 2016. Roark helped organize anti-refugee rallies, including at the state capital and another in Missoula. (Brennan Linsley / AP) #
Dr. Bhavik Kumar, 31, enters a room to perform a first trimester abortion at Whole Woman's Health, one of the few abortion providers left in Texas, at their San Antonio, Texas clinic on June 2, 2016. In order to serve the women who depend on a dwindling number of abortion providers in Texas, Kumar commutes across the state to clinics in San Antonio and Fort Worth. "We know the need is there," says Kumar. "I feel morally and ethically obligated to do this work." (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) #
After leaving his home at 5 a.m., Dr. Bhavik Kumar rubs his eyes along the long drive to Fort Worth, Texas in order to provide abortion services at Whole Woman's Health on June 3, 2016. In order to serve the women who depend on a dwindling number of abortion providers in Texas, Kumar commutes across the state to clinics in San Antonio and Fort Worth. (Jacquelyn Martin / AP) #
Daniel Slayden, owner of Parcell's Deli, Grille and Bakery, sits for a portrait after the lunchtime rush at his business in Benton, Kentucky, on April 11, 2016 "If a homosexual couple comes in and wants a cake, then that's fine. I mean I'll do it as long as I'm free to speak my truth to them," said Slayden, taking a break after the lunchtime rush. "I don't want to get any point to where I have to say or accept that their belief is the truth." (David Goldman / AP) #
Coal Miner Scott Tiller drives a man trip, a cart that shuttles miners underground, as he ends a shift in a mine less than 40-inches high in Welch, West Virginia, on May 11, 2016. For over a century, life in Central Appalachia has been largely defined by the ups and downs of the coal industry. There is a growing sense in these mountains that for a variety of reasons, economic, environmental, political, coal mining will not rebound this time. Coal's slump is largely the result of cheap natural gas, which now rivals coal as a fuel for generating electricity. Older coal-fired plants are being idled to meet clean-air standards. According to the Labor Department, there were 56,700 jobs in coal mining in March, down from 84,600 in March 2009, shortly after President Barack Obama entered office. (David Goldman / AP) #
What was once a Walmart employing 140 people sits vacant after the store closed in January in the coal town of Welch, West Virginia,, on May 12, 2016. There are stark differences between the two parties on energy and environment issues that underscore the sky-high stakes for both sides of the debate in the 2016 presidential race. Many environmental groups and Democrats fear a potential rollback of the Obama administration’s policies on climate change and renewable energy under a Republican president. Republicans all support coal production and enthusiastically back nuclear energy. They along with business groups are eager to boost oil and gas production following years of frustration with Obama. (David Goldman / AP) #
Allene Swanson, 22, prepares packages of saffron grown by Afghan farmers for distribution, at her workplace in Chicago on April 21, 2016. "I think that America as an idea is one of the most beautiful ideas that the world has ever known. I think that American opportunity and ingenuity has built some of the most incredible technologies and innovations today," she says. "And still, when I look around, I see a country that seems like it’s crumbling. I see people who are hungry and broke and who are struggling a lot." (AP) #
Juana Lara waves through the border wall to her granddaughter Eva Lara during a brief visitation where Mexico and the United States meet on the Pacific Ocean in San Diego on May 1, 2016. Eva lives in the United States legally through legislation that temporarily prevents young immigrants from being deported. (Gregory Bull / AP) #
Eva Lara talks with her grandmother Juana Lara through the border wall during a brief visitation on May 1, 2016. (Gregory Bull / AP) #
Eva Lara, second from let, reacts as she reaches for her grandmother Juana Lara through the border wall during a brief visitation near San Diego on May 1, 2016. Eva, who lives in the United States legally through legislation that temporarily prevents young immigrants from being deported, has not seen her grandmother since the family left Mexico when she was three years old. (Gregory Bull / AP) #

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