On Monday, the US President Donald Trump announced that he is suspending immigration to the United States temporarily as coronavirus continued to ravage the North American country.
“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!” Trump said in a tweet.
The details of the immigration suspension were not made known, opening room for wide speculation about the form it would take.
While the order is yet to be implemented, some officials of the Trump administration have given hints on what is to be expected. An official said it’s going to involve temporary suspension of work visas for 120 days, green card and family immigration are expected to be halted indefinitely.
Trump said the move has become necessary as part of efforts to save jobs for Americans and mitigate the hardship that coronavirus has brought on businesses.
Since last week, over 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits as more companies lay off workers. The number of coronavirus cases has also surged tremendously amidst lockdown that has paralyzed businesses across states. The number of confirmed cases is getting close to the one million mark with over 47,000 deaths.
But as Trump stood on the pandemic to further restrict immigration to the United States; civil rights groups have condemned the move saying it is one of the discriminatory decisions his administration has been looking for alibis to make.
“This is not about the policy. It is about the message the president wants to send. He wants people to turn against the other,” Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum wrote Tuesday on Twitter. “And regardless of the valuable contributions immigrants are making to the response and recovery, he sees immigrants as the easiest to blame.”
The Trump administration issued a statement to defend the decision. On Tuesday, the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnary said the order has been in the interest of American workers.
“President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times. As the president has said, ‘decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African American and Latino workers.’ At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary,” she said.
Last month, the US suspended all visa processing as a way of curbing transported infection of COVID-19, after it has agreed with Canada and Mexico to extend non-essential border restriction until the middle of May.
Hard-hit European countries and China had earlier been restricted from travels to the US until the outbreak is contained.
These have contributed to the reasons why activists, including Democratic lawmakers are standing up to the new order.
It is believed that Trump always takes an exploitative approach to events in order to execute his ill-intended plans, especially against immigrants. He was elected through the campaign to purge the US of illegal immigrants and to ban Muslims from entering the country. He has stayed committed to the promise through his attempts to ban many Muslims from entering the US and restrict other countries from certain visas.
His every attempt to shut the door against immigrants has been fiercely resisted, though he has had some wins. In 2019, there were only 30,000 refugees admitted to the US, most of them came from Myanmar, Congo, Ukraine, Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan.
The Department of Homeland Security said that in 2019, just over a million people were granted lawful permanent resident status. The decline in the numbers indicates wins for Trump and his anti-immigration supporters.
America’s strength lies in the diversity of its immigrants, a fact Trump has failed to see from the perspective of the average American. He has been understood to see immigration to be of no benefit to the United States, even though statistics are showing otherwise.
Coronavirus appears to have presented another opportunity for Trump to exploit in his quest to fulfill his campaign promise of limiting the number of immigrants in the United States.
Democratic Senator Kamala Harris, Cal. Wrote on Tuesday after Trump announced that he is suspending immigration on the ground of fighting coronavirus and saving jobs for the American people: “Trump failed to take this crisis seriously from day 1. His abandonment of his role as president has cost lives. And now, he’s shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigration agenda. Enough Mr. President. The American people are fed up,” she said.
Trump’s claim on Monday night is refuted by his support of those protesting the stay-at-home order. He has been pushing for the reopening of the economy as the lockdowns appear to be threatening his chances of reelection.
As the world awaits the details of the latest immigration ban, one thing has become clear; Trump is going to use every opportunity to push his anti-immigration agenda.