President Trump on Monday said he would sign an executive order banning all immigration into the United States to ensure Americans will have jobs when the economy reopens:
“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 announcement, which came hours after Trump spoke about reopening the economies of some states, is certain to be challenged in court.
Critics accuse Trump of using the pandemic to further his controversial immigration policy and see the immigration ban as a way to draw attention away from his handling of the crisis and to shore up support from his voter base.
“This action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda,” argues Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro (D).
Supporters view the immigration ban as a way to help the millions of Americans facing unemployment as a result of the pandemic.
“Twenty-two million Americans have lost their jobs in the last month because of the China virus,” tweeted Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR). Let’s help them get back to work before we import more foreigners to compete for their jobs.”
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s former attorney general, called for a ban on immigration to protect jobs last week: “I am calling on the federal government to immediately halt immigration to the United States until Americans are BACK TO WORK!” he tweeted. “It is insanity for this nation to invite foreigners to come in and take any of the few jobs available during this crisis.”
It is unclear what impact the immigration ban will have considering most travel has already stopped.
Trump has already banned most travel from China, Canada, Mexico, and a handful of European countries to slow the spread of COVID-19. Refugee resettlement has been suspended, visa offices are closed, and citizenship ceremonies aren’t happening.
“There’s so little travel right now that at the margin the policy change that was announced last night isn’t going to be economically significant in the short run because there’s no movement about,” notes White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett.
Officials are still working on the text of the executive order, but one official said he thought the ban would last for ‘120 days or so.’ The ban is expected to include exemptions for essential workers including farm workers and healthcare providers.
Author’s Note: If this ban will make it easier for Americans to find jobs when the pandemic is over, it will be worth it.