President Trump said his forthcoming executive order barring immigrants will apply only to people seeking green cards, last sixty (60) days and won’t affect foreign workers entering the United States on a temporary basis.
Spelling out details of the measures, Trump said he would introduce something short of a full halt on immigration amid the coronavirus pandemic. The provision would amount to a sixty 60-day suspension on immigrants seeking permanent resident status in the United States.
A U.S administration official added that the process will only cover green cards because the temporary work visa aspect is more complicated and needs more time to sort out, more so given the fact that many of those currently in the United States on work visas are working in sectors related to the coronavirus pandemic, from healthcare workers to workers at food processing plants.
Trump posted on Twitter Wednesday he would review the executive order at the end of that sixty 60-day periods and decide whether it should be renewed.
Trump suggested there will be economic effects of the executive order, indicating it would “protect American jobs,” and indicated that it will have certain exemptions.
“By suspending immigration, we’ll help put unemployed American people first in line for jobs as America reopens,” Trump stated. “It would be unjust and wrong for Americans laid off by the pandemic to be replaced with immigrants flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American people.”
Details on exemptions, he later stated, will come “tonight or tomorrow.”
Prior to the president’s briefing on Tuesday, details of the plan were not clear and some White House officials claim there wasn’t a great deal of clarity on how the order would come together.
Sources familiar with the matter said administration officials began working around the middle of last week on an order that would temporarily suspend immigration after Trump raised the matter privately with White House aides.
These move could prove largely symbolic, given the restrictions on immigration already in place due to the COVID-19, will allow Trump and his campaign to play directly to his support base on the issue of immigration, which Trump believes won him the 2016 presidential election and he hopes to use again in 2020.
But it also stands to affect thousands of immigrants waiting to move to the United States, some of whom may be family members of US citizens. About 459,000 new immigrants arrivals to the United States became green card holders in 2019, down 13 per cent from 2018 arrivals, according to data from the Dept of Homeland Security.
The president’s vague announcement came as a surprise to administration officials who rushed to finalize the order on Tuesday morning
Over the course of recent weeks, the government has made more than twelve changes to the US immigration system, citing the coronavirus crisis, largely reducing immigration to the country. Refugee resettlement has been suspended, visa offices are also shut down, citizenship ceremonies are on hold, and the administration is swiftly removing immigrants, including unaccompanied children apprehended at the border, among a slew of other changes.
Officials began working on the order to further restrict immigration last week, according to a source familiar with the matter. But some of its provisions were still being fleshed out when the president posted about it on Twitter late Monday with little warning to administration officials who had been working to craft the order.
Facing criticism over his administration’s response to COVID-19, Trump was too quick to announce the order, a source familiar with the matter said.
Immigration hardliners, who have urged the administration to cut down the flow of immigration to the United States, heralded Trump’s decision.
“With millions of Americans who wish to work full-time unable to do so, most immigration at this time makes no sense, and Trump appears to be moving in the right direction to reduce it,” said Roy Beck, founder of Numbers USA, which pushed for reduced immigration.
Immigrant supporters, Andrea Flores, criticized the anticipated order in a statement, saying, “Unfortunately, President Trump seems happier with fanning anti-immigrant flames than in saving lives. We can’t allow the President to use this coronavirus crisis to advance his racism and xenophobia.”
Immigrants are on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak, making up an important part of the workforce in many essential jobs and services that are key to fighting the virus and keeping the country floating, according to latest statistics by the Migration Policy Institute.
The government has acknowledged the need for workers in some sectors. Last week, the government said it was temporarily amending visa requirements for temporary foreign workers. The change is created to help US agricultural employers who rely on workers from overseas.
Eligible employers who are concerned workers will be unable to enter the United States due to travel restriction can use those already in the US with certain visa status.
Among the reasons, highlighted by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Homeland Security for the temporary rule change is protecting the nation’s food supply chain and security.
Administration officials advised agricultural employers that seasonal farmworkers wouldn’t be affected.