President Donald Trump on Monday said he is ordering a temporary suspension of immigration to the U.S.
He said in a tweet, “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!”
Trump often refers to the coronavirus pandemic as the “invisible enemy.”
Trump did not mention this pending action during the White House briefing on Monday which focused on ramping up on a massive scale testing across the U.S. for COVID-19.
Trump talked expansively during the briefing but waited until late Monday night to preview his order.
The president’s move to suspend immigration because of COVID-19 — suggesting it will be a way to curb infections — comes at the same time Trump is pushing for a phased-in reopening of a nation largely in lockdown.
It’s not clear what the practical impact of an order to suspend immigration would be since much border activity is already restricted. The U.S. has almost shut down international air travel for now.
And earlier today, the Department of Homeland Security announced that “the US, Mexico, and Canada have each agreed to extend restrictions on non-essential travel across their shared borders for 30 additional days.”
DHS said in a statement, “While commercial activities and essential travel remain unrestricted, CBP continues to collaborate with its partners in Canada and Mexico to limit non-essential travel aimed at preventing COVID-19 from crossing our shared borders.”
At the same time, the U.S. has been actively helping U.S. citizens stuck overseas return to the U.S. The White House released a statement from DHS on Monday that said Customs and Border Protection, “as of April 19th, CBP, in close coordination with the State Department’s Repatriation Task Force, has facilitated the return of more than 64,000 Americans back to the U.S. from 110 countries.”
If Trump does issue the immigration ban, it’s not clear how this would impact foreign workers allowed in the U.S. as farmworkers.
On March 11, in a move to stop travel-related COVID-19 spread, Trump, the White House said, “signed a Presidential Proclamation, which suspends the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries at any point during the 14 days prior to their scheduled arrival to the United States. These countries, known as the Schengen Area, include: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.”