The spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to have devastating impacts on immigration to the United States. On April 22, 2020, President Donald Trump signed a new executive order that restricts certain immigrants from entering the United States for 60 days, with some exceptions. The full order can be read here.
The Executive Order states that its aim is to suspend entry of certain immigrants to the United States due to the negative impact that foreign workers can have on the labor market during the Coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump states, “I have determined that, without intervention, the United States faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labor supply outpaces labor demand.”
Pursuant to the order, suspension and limitation on entry applies to immigrants who are:
- are outside the United States on the effective date of this proclamation;
- do not have an immigrant visa that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation; and
- do not have an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, an appropriate boarding foil, or an advance parole document) that is valid on the effective date of this proclamation or issued on any date thereafter that permits him or her to travel to the United States and seek entry or admission.
The order does not apply to “lawful permanent residents, spouses of United States citizens, immigrants entering pursuant to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, or any alien who is under 21 years old and is the child of a United States citizen, or who is a prospective adoptee seeking to enter the United States pursuant to the IR-4 or IH-4 visa classifications.” There are other immigrants who are exempt from the order; a full list can be found here.
Although the Executive Order expires in 60 days, the President can extend its application if necessary.
There has been a lot of criticism of the new order by immigration advocates. According to Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the ACLU, “While the order is limited in scope, President Trump’s transparent attempt to distract from his own failures with this unwarranted suspension will cause real pain for families and employers across the country.”
There are many prospective immigrants outside the United States who have been waiting for years to obtain their visas and enter the country. They will be unable to do so for the next 60 days, or possibly longer.
Throughout his tenure, President Trump has taken many steps to limit immigration to the United States, resulting in damaging consequences for immigrants and their families. While all efforts must be taken to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, a valid question is whether this order is aimed to do so or is rather an attempt to further the anti-immigration agenda of the Trump Administration.