Donald Trump has confirmed he will suspend immigration into the United States of America while the world grapples with COVID-19.
Trump made the announcement regarding the executive order through Twitter and signed the order Wednesday 22 April, blocking some immigrants from permanent residence in the United States.
On Monday (20 April), Trump tweeted: “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!”
A senior official stated that the idea “had been under consideration for a while” and an official document detailing how it would be carried out would be produced in the forthcoming weeks.
Critics are concerned Trump is using the health crisis to push forward harsh immigration legislation
However, critics are concerned Trump is using the health crisis to push forward harsh immigration legislation. Trump’s infamous “Muslim ban” in 2016 shocked the world, with the American President banning travel on Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia as well as a temporary ban on refugees for at least 120 days. The US-Canada border is currently closed and air travel mostly suspended.
Al Jazeera quoted an internal White House figure as saying “[Trump] wanted this all along, but now under this pandemic he can absolutely do it.”
The new executive order is set to last for 60 days and will be reviewed and extended if deemed necessary.
In his daily news conference, Trump said the order would mean Americans would be “first in line” for jobs when the economy reopens, and it would “preserve” healthcare resources for American patients.
Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia said: “From the beginning, Trump has flailed about someone to blame for his own failure. Obama. Governors. China. Speaker Pelosi. People of Asian descent. Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country. This [the executive order] is just xenophobic scapegoating.”
Beyer’s sentiments were echoed by Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York who said many immigrants in America are “front line” workers.
John Hopkins University is tracking the number of COVID-19 cases across the globe with the United States topping the chart. As of the morning of 24 April, there are confirmed cases of 865,829 and 44,099 deaths.
The financial impact of COVID-19 has meant in the last month alone, 22 million American have applied for unemployment benefits
Some Americans have been protesting lockdown across various states, calling for the reopening of businesses that are temporarily suspended. Rallies in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, and Washington state took place last week. The financial impact of COVID-19 has meant in the last month alone, 22 million American have applied for unemployment benefits.
Senior fellow at The Center for Global Development in Washington, Michael Clemens, said that the order would harm important industries such as food processing, care for both elderly and children, warehouse work, the shipping industry and more.
Clemens said: “Immigrants are the backbone of these industries.”
Executive director of America’s Voice, Frank Sharry, said the order “smacks of an electoral strategy, not a policy change, and it smacks of desperation and panic.”