President Trump has signed a proclamation declaring that certain types of immigration to the United States will be limited for the next 60 days. Trump’s suspension of immigration into the United States is a response to the Coronavirus outbreak and the economic damage done by shutting down businesses across the country. With so many people losing their jobs during the crisis, the president said his reason for limiting the amount of people who can come to the U.S. is to help American citizens to be more competitive in the job market as the economy begins to reopen after the Coronavirus lockdown.
During the suspension period, overseas immigration applications for certain types of green cards will not be processed. This does not apply to those seeking work in any field that can help with the aftermath of COVID-19. It also does not apply to people who are married to U.S. citizens, or children under the age of 21 seeking to reunite with parents. The Migration Policy Institute estimates that for two months, up to 52,000 hopeful immigrants would have to wait to apply for a Green Card.
President Trump announced his intention to limit immigration during the outbreak on Twitter. He 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!”
The president later described his motivation for making the proclamation at a White House press briefing, adding that “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad … We must first take care of the American worker.” He continued, “I want the American worker and our American citizens to be able to get jobs. I don’t want them to compete right now.”
In the proclamation, the president specifically highlighted the struggles experienced by African American communities, which tend to be the first hit by economic downturn. He wrote, “These are the workers who, at the margin between employment and unemployment, are likely to bear the burden of excess labor supply disproportionately.”
Critics of the president have suggested that he is using the Coronavirus crisis to limit migration in the long term. The executive director of the National Immigration Forum, Ali Noorani, wrote in response to the move:
“This is not about the policy. It is about the message the president wants to send. He wants people to turn against ‘the other.’ And, regardless of the valuable contributions immigrants are making to the response and recovery, he sees immigrants as the easiest to blame.”
Whether this presidential proclamation will help Americans to find new jobs or his critics are correct and he is playing politics, only one thing remains certain: When the crisis is over, the only way the American economy will recover is for Americans to get back to work.