Last updated on Tuesday, April 21, 2020, at 10:19 PM by Writer
Reproduced from the BBC
President Donald Trump has said he will sign an executive order to temporarily suspend all immigration to the U.S. because of the coronavirus.
On Twitter, he cited “the attack of the invisible enemy,” as he calls the virus, and the need to protect the work of Americans, but gave no details.
It was unclear which programs could be affected and whether the president would be able to carry out the order.
Critics say the government is using the pandemic to crack down on immigration.
Immigration has traditionally been a strong campaign theme for Trump, but has taken a back seat to the pandemic and during the November election.
Trump’s announcement Monday afternoon came when the White House argued that the worst of the pandemic was over and that the country could begin to reopen. Restrictions on the movement of people, implemented by many states to curb the spread of the virus, have paralyzed parts of the economy.
Over the past four weeks, more than 20 million Americans have registered for unemployment benefits. That means about as many jobs as employers had added over the previous decade.
The United States has more than 787,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 42,000 deaths, according to an account by Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the pandemic globally.
How can the proposals be implemented?
It was not immediately known who might be affected by Trump’s announcement or when that measure could take effect, and the White House has not commented.
According to the New York Times, citing several people familiar with the plan, a formal order temporarily banning the supply of new green cards and work visas could be a way to implement the measure; the administration would stop approving any application from foreigners to live and work in the United States for an indefinite period of time.
Last month, the U.S. suspended almost all visa processes, including immigrants, due to the pandemic.
The United States has already agreed with Canada and Mexico to extend border restrictions on non-essential travel until at least mid-May.
Travel has also been severely restricted to European countries and China which have been very successful, although people with temporary work visas, students and business travelers are exempt.
On Monday, the United States said it would continue to deport migrants it finds on the border with Mexico for at least another month.
In recent weeks, emergency powers have been used to expel thousands of undocumented migrants to the southern U.S. border. The public health measure allows officials to repeal immigration laws, streamlining withdrawal processes.
Last year, just over a million people obtained legal permanent resident status in the United States, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The main countries of origin were Mexico, China, India, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Cuba.
More than half of these, however, were cases of “adjusted state from the United States” (i.e., they were already there) and only 459,000 came from abroad. The latter group would be the one allegedly affected by an immigration ban.
As for refugees, there were 30,000 people admitted to the US in 2019, most from Congo, Myanmar, Ukraine, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Syria.