President Trump’s Order To Block Immigration Amid COVID-19 Doesn’t Help the Pandemic

Supermajority Education Fund

April 28, 2020

Last Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted that he was going to “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the White House task force briefing the next day, Trump explained he would suspend immigration into the U.S. for 60 days and end the issuance of green cards with the goal of keeping immigrants from becoming citizens and taking American jobs as unemployment rates soar.

The president issued an official proclamation on April 22, which, according to the Los Angeles Times, will block some new entrants who do not already have visas or other travel documents, but includes exemptions for children or spouses of U.S. citizens; any children or spouses of U.S. military; most temporary visitors and potential refugees and asylum seekers. 

Still, the Migration Policy Institute estimates that the order would halt around 52,000 green cards for new arrivals over the 60-day period it’s in effect. 

This newest immigration order comes as many immigrants and undocumented workers have been on the frontlines of the pandemic as “essential workers.” The Migration Policy Institute estimates that six million immigrants work in industries considered essential during the coronavirus pandemic. MPI says another six million work for industries considered to be the hardest hit financially by the crisis, including restaurants, hotels, and in-home childcare. This means that 12 million immigrant workers have been affected. 

Immigrants have been excluded from stimulus legislation passed by Congress, but some lawmakers, including Elizabeth Warren, are fighting to pass an Essential Workers Bill of Rights to protect frontline workers. 

Meanwhile, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has said it wouldn’t deport more immigrants who seek medical care during this pandemic, but ICE facilities still continue to detain thousands of people who are facing a high risk of catching COVID-19.  

“Although ICE says that it is limiting immigration enforcement, they’ve stopped short of the full stop communities need, and are still needlessly detaining thousands of people in detention centers which suffered from chronic fatal neglect even before the pandemic,” Mary Small, the legislative director at Indivisible, told Supermajority News

The executive order will harm all Americans, because it shows that the president continues to be distracted by policies driven by his political and ideological agenda rather than focusing on addressing the coronavirus pandemic in a competent manner that will truly save American lives and jobs,” Tom Jawetz, vice president of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, told Supermajority News.