President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his immigration ban would be a 60-day pause on green cards, which is already in place because of the coronavirus.
‘This pause will be in effect for 60 days. Afterwards, the need for any extension or modification will be evaluated by myself and a group of people based on academic conditions at time. This order will only apply for an individual seeking a permanent residency. In other words, those receiving green cards,’ he said at the daily White House briefing.
But the State Department has essentially stopped processing visa applications because of the pandemic.
The order will not apply those to seeking temporary status or a temporary work permit. But the president didn’t say if would apply to immediate family members of those who are citizens or already have permanent resident status.
President Donald Trump said his immigration ban would be a 60-day pause on green cards
Commuters wearing protective masks to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 walk towards the US-Mexico border at San Ysidro port of entry, in Tijuana
The White House struggled to explain President Trump’s ban after he tweeted it Monday night, causing chaos and confusion with its lack of details.
The president said he was issuing the order to protect American workers but some fear Trump could issue an extension that would be hard to undo.
‘We want to protect our U.S. Workers. I think as we move forward, we will become more and more protective of them,’ Trump said.
He said the economy would determine whether or not he issues an extension.
‘I think I will have a very easy decision to make. I hope that the economy is going to be great by that time, but we’ll see,’ Trump said.
He noted there would be exemptions for certain workers.
‘The farmers will not be affected,’ Trump said, referring to the seasonal migrant workers who come into the country to help harvest crops.
The president said he expected to sign the order on Wednesday.
The president backed off plans to halt guest worker programs that bring farm laborers, high-tech employees and others under special visas, The New York Times reported.
Democrats called the order ‘xenophobic’ and claimed it was more presidential scapegoating on the coronavirus.
‘From the beginning Trump has flailed about seeking someone to blame for his own failure,’ wrote Democratic Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia on Twitter. ‘Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country. This is just xenophobic scapegoating.’
Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York called the president: ‘Xenophobe. In. Chief.’
Sen. Chuck Schumer accused President Trump of trying to cause a distraction with his new order banning immigration
The White House struggled to explain what President Donald Trump’s new order meant as Democrats criticized the president for the ban
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany offered no additional details or explanation of President Trump’s immigration ban in a statement on Tuesday morning
The executive order would deny entry for people seeking most types of work visas for at least 90 days, Bloomberg News reported.
It would exempt farm workers, healthcare professionals, holders of H-1B visas who can claim they are not taking an American job, refugee and asylum seekers and ‘any alien whose entry would be in the national interest.’
In the draft order, Trump says he’s protecting the ‘marginal worker.’
‘I have determined that we cannot jump start the domestic economy if Americans are forced to compete against an artificially enlarged labor pool caused by the introduction of foreign workers,’ Trump said. ‘I have determined that the entry of most aliens as permanent or temporary workers in the immediate term would have adverse impacts on the national interest.’
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer accused the president of causing a diversion from the issues at hand, including having enough testing for the disease.
Presidential Power on Immigration Policy
Modern U.S immigration law – which is about allowing foreign nationals to settle in the United States as opposed to just visiting – dates back to the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which ended the preference for white migrants and established a more broad entry system.
Constitutionally, Congress has the power to make immigration law and the president – i.e. Donald Trump – is tasked with carrying such laws out. The president can, however, control the administration of such laws, such as the timing of when and how they are implemented.
But Trump has some power here too.
The president has historic power to open and close borders, which courts have ruled comes from the inherent powers granted to an executive.
Additionally, the Homeland Security Act of 2002 expanded the president’s power over immigration in the wake of the September 11th attacks.
The law gives the executive branch the power to secure the borders and establish national immigration enforcement policies and priorities.
But the full range of that presidential power has yet to be tested in court.
President Trump has tested it in bits and pieces. For example, in 2018, the Supreme Court upheld his travel ban on predominately Muslim countries, citing the president’s authority to secure the borders.
‘It is another diversion. The agencies don’t even know what it is. No one knows what it is,’ Schumer said Tuesday morning on CNN. ‘What we really need is a focus on testing, a focus on contact tracing, so that we can open up again.’
The president announced the ban in tweet Monday night but with no additional details – a vagueness that caused confusion about what his order meant and left his administration scrambling for an explanation.
The White House offered no clarity on the matter Tuesday morning.
‘President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times. As President Trump 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,’ said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a statement.
The president is looking to sign an executive order – as early as Tuesday – that would suspend nearly all immigration, using the argument it would stop the spread of infection by foreigners arriving from abroad, The Washington Post reported.
And one of Trump’s top aides offered no more details during an appearance on ‘Fox & Friends.’
‘The president’s trying to do everything he can to put the health of the American people first during this crisis,’ said National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien.
He compared the decision to Trump’s January move to ban some travel from China to try and contain the coronavirus.
‘It’s not dissimilar to the restrictions on travel from China that he implemented back on January 29th, at the very outset of this public health crisis. We think that those restrictions saved thousands or tens of thousands of American lives,’ O’Brien said.
Trump used his ban to argue he was on top of combating the virus from the start and that his early move saved lives. But the ban applied only to foreign nationals who had traveled in China within the previous 14 days and left many gaps for people to get through.
The United States has the most cases of coronavirus of any country in the world with more than 799,000 infections. And more than 42,000 people have died from the disease, which has brought business to the country to nearly a halt and tanked the economy.
Migrants in the ‘Remain in Mexico’ program walk on the Paso del Norte International Bridge to reschedule their immigration hearings amid the coronavirus outbreak
Democrats criticized the president for failing to take early warnings of the virus seriously, a drum beat they kept up in the wake of his immigration ban.
‘Trump failed to take this crisis seriously from day 1,’ wrote former presidential candidate Kamala Harris on Twitter. ‘His abandonment of his role as president has cost lives. And now, he’s shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda.’
Amy Klobuchar also accused the president of passing the blame.
‘As our country battles the pandemic, as workers put their lives on the line, the President attacks immigrants & blames others for his own failures. The order I’d like to see tonight? Testing. Instead he twists ‘the buck stops here’ into this: ‘the buck stops anywhere but here,” the Minnesota senator wrote on Twitter.
And former presidential contender Julian Castro called it ‘a dumb move’ that would continue to weaken the nation’s economy.
It’s unclear how the presidential directive will change anything currently happening with regards to immigration to the United States.
Citizenship ceremonies have stopped because of social distancing, as have visa interviews. The refugee program has been paused and any immigrant caught at the border is immediately turned back, which was a previous presidential directive from Trump.
Trump’s tweet offered few details on his new policy.
‘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!,’ he wrote on Monday night.
The order will exempt migrant farm workers who are essential to the nation’s food supply and healthcare professionals, an administration official told The Wall Street Journal.
The president tweeted Monday evening announcing his immigration plans
A general view from the looking south to the El Chaparral Port of Entry to Mexico March 21. The president tweeted Monday: ‘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’s order will likely face legal challenges.
The president has made his war on immigration a center piece to his campaign going back to the 2016 election, when he vowed to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
He also enforced U.S. policy that separated migrant children from their parents making illegal border crossings, a move he ended up reversing after coming under heavy criticism from Democrats. Even first lady Melania Trump and first daughter Ivanka Trump disagreed with that move.
The president already banned travel from China in January, closed the U.S. to European travel last month and has banned all but essential travel from Mexico and Canada.
Other countries have locked down their borders to try and contain the virus. Last month, the European Union imposed a 30-day entry ban on nonessential travel for non-EU citizens.
Trump’s decision also contradicts his recent proclamations he wants to get the country re-open for business.