Trump’s Immigration Pause Falls Well Short Of Full Ban

Trump’s proclaimed immigration ban will exempt temporary foreign workers, the biggest source of immigration at the moment.

Trump announced that he will sign an executive order blocking most people for 60 days from receiving a permanent residency visa, or green card. But the order will still allow the government to continue processing visas for hundreds of thousands of temporary employees, including farm workers, landscapers, and crop pickers — the largest source of immigration.

The order is also expected to carve out additional exemptions for so-called essential employees, including health care workers, and immigrants who come into the United States through immediate family members, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Trump, who will sign the executive order as soon as Wednesday, said “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrants, labor flown in from abroad,” Trump said at the daily White House briefing, nodding to the 22 million Americans who have filed for unemployment in recent weeks. “We must first take care of the American worker.”

Still, the president was short on details and indicated the order is still not final.

Trump’s rationale for this executive order is a “phony” excuse because there is a shortage of workers in agriculture, housekeeping, construction, daycare, and nursing homes.  The COVID-19 pandemic is not a reason to halt U.S. legal immigration.  Trump also hinted that he could sign a second order in the future, imposing further immigration restrictions.  This could have a negative impact on pending and future PERM applications.

The move angered conservatives who were hoping the president would go further.  The Trump administration has already paused most routine visa processing and refugee cases during the coronavirus pandemic, meaning the president’s executive order may be redundant for many already-stalled cases.  Moreover, a majority of immigrants seeking Green Cards are already living in the U.S.


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