President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he will issue an executive order temporarily suspending all immigration into the United States, citing the need to protect American jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
The motivation behind the order was “22 million unemployed Americans and counting due to Covid-19,” a Department of Homeland Security official told Politico.
Temorary end to immigration
Late on Monday evening, President Trump took to Twitter and wrote, “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”
In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020
The political left blew their top at the news and immediately trotted out the tired old tropes accusing the president of being racist and xenophobic. Others claimed that the move is only intended to rally his base, or that it was a distraction to divert attention away from his poor handling of the ongoing public health crisis.
But with sky-rocketing job losses due to the coronavirus shutdowns, the administration appears to have a good argument for the move. Former attorney general Jeff Sessions last week called for a stop to all immigration until unemployment is eased during an appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“We have about 1.4 million people that come to this country every year to take jobs. We just announced today 5 million more people on the unemployment roll … 22 million now [since mid-March]. There is no doubt it is in the interest of the United States of America to make sure that we get every one of those unemployed American jobs first,” he said.
Previous immigration and travel restrictions
The Washington Times noted that this executive order to temporarily suspend all immigration into the country was not the first action President Trump has taken during the coronavirus crisis to protect the American people from potential risks coming from outside the country.
In late January, Trump banned most incoming travel from China. The ban was extended to most of Europe and other nations by March, in an effort to reduce the number of infected travelers in this country.
Similarly, he reached a cooperative agreement with both Canada and Mexico to close the borders to all non-essential traffic. Meanwhile, by virtue of authorities unlocked by the national health emergency, provisions allowing for the immediate removal of illegal migrants caught after crossing the border have been triggered.
On top of that, and also due to the coronavirus crisis, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security recently scrapped a plan to expand a special visa program allowing entry into the country for seasonal guest-workers.
It remains to be seen exactly, the president’s executive order will entail, such as whether it will be a blanket ban or a more targeted measure with carveouts and exemptions for certain criteria, such as regular guest-workers or those who’ve already applied for and/or received a green card but have yet to enter the U.S.
According to reports, farm workers may be exempted from the temporary suspension.