By Brett Samuels
and Rafael Bernal
President Trump on Tuesday announced details of his executive order to suspend immigration amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the measure would initially last for 60 days and apply to those seeking permanent residence.
Trump portrayed the action, which he first previewed in a tweet late Monday night, as an effort to protect American workers from competition overseas. He indicated during a White House briefing that there would be certain exemptions, but did not elaborate.
“It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad,” Trump said at the briefing. “We must first take care of the American worker.”
Trump said the administration would stop issuing certain green cards for 60 days, a move that is certain to attract fiery opposition. Further details about the order were not immediately available.
The most common type of green card applications are family-based immigration sponsorship for permanent residency of foreign nationals by their U.S. spouses.
Foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States were already unable to do so amid the pandemic, as consulates been closed for most visa interviews since last month.
Trump did not specify whether the suspension would apply equally to would-be permanent immigrants already in the country or only to those
seeking first entry into the United States.
A suspension limited to foreign nationals outside the country would have formally enacted a suspension that’s already in place. But a suspension affecting foreign nationals within the country seeking to change their status could put tens of thousands of people at risk of falling out of migratory status without recourse.
That would almost certainly invite extensive litigation, at a time when courts, law firms and government buildings are closed due to the pandemic.
By Brett Samuels