Sanwar Ali comment:
UPDATE: Latest news is that this is not a total “immigration ban”. Trump is using the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to further restrict immigration. It only affects those who have applied for "Green Cards" which are permanent residence visas. Visa issuance will be suspended for 60 days. US visa ban will not affect L1, E2, H1B and other non-immigrant visas. It may be the case that permanent immigration visas will continue to be processed. However, Green Cards will not be issued yet. No doubt there will be various legal challenges. Currently awaiting full details.
Donald Trump, who recently cut funding to the World Health Organization (WHO) citing coronavirus failures, has said he will temporarily ban immigration (in reality a partial ban) to the US because of the pandemic. Trump says he will sign an executive order suspending immigration to the US, with critics saying that the US President is using the crisis to crackdown on immigrants.
Trump announced the partial immigration suspension on Twitter on April 21, tweeting: “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!”
The US President’s plan for a partial ban on immigration to the US is the latest in a series of erratic actions from Trump during the coronavirus crisis. He has faced heavy criticism for his inconsistency in dealing with the pandemic, which has ranged from downplaying the risk of coronavirus early on, to declaring a state of national emergency weeks later.
Trump has also encouraged strict social distancing measures and then questioned those measures, saying that they’re causing “too much economic and emotional pain.” The President has even clashed with public health experts and in many cases ignored their advice.
Meanwhile, he recently stated that he had ‘total control’ over whether US lockdown measures could be eased. However, he later backtracked, saying “it’s really up to individual states to manage their response to the coronavirus.”
US immigration Trump’s campaign theme
A report published by the BBC states that ‘immigration has been a strong campaigning theme for Mr Trump.’ However, the report acknowledged that the issue of US immigration has faded into the background amid the COVID-19 outbreak and in the build-up to the US election on November 3, 2020.
Trump has already imposed a US visa travel ban on most of Europe, including the UK, and China because of coronavirus. The ban was an extension of restrictions placed on several Muslim-majority nations, mainly in Africa, prior to the global pandemic.
Trump’s US visa and immigration ban follows an announcement from the White House that ‘the worst of the pandemic is over and the US can start reopening.’ Measures to restrict the movement of people in the US, enforced by many states to stop the spread of the virus, has crippled parts of the economy.
Over the last month, records indicate that more than 20 million Americans have filed jobless claims.
Enforcing the US partial immigration ban
The White House has not yet provided full details on who the partial US visa and immigration ban will affect and when it will come into force.
The New York Times, which says that they’ve been in contact with sources close to Trump’s plan, states that a temporary ban on the issuing of US green cards and non-immigrant work visas – such as the H1B visa and L1 visa – is a possibility. Under these circumstances, the Trump administration would refuse US visa applications for an indefinite period of time.
In March, all US visa processing ceased because of the coronavirus, while an agreement was recently reached with Canada and Mexico to extend border restrictions on non-essential travel until at least mid-May.
The Trump administration has also said that migrants at the US border with Mexico would continue to be turned away for at least another month. In recent weeks, Trump has used emergency powers to expel thousands of undocumented migrants along the US southern border.
The emergency public health measure enables Trump administration officials to override US immigration laws and expedite removal protocols.
In 2019, more than one million people were granted lawful permanent residence in the US, the majority of people were from Mexico, China, India, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Cuba. More than 50 percent were cases of ‘adjusted status within the US’, meaning they were already in the country.
Only 459,000 arrived in the US from overseas and it’s likely that people travelling to the US will be most impacted by Trump’s immigration ban.
Reasons behind Trump’s partial immigration ban
It’s no secret that Trump has an anti-immigrant agenda. Many of the comments he makes about people from outside the US are derisory and offensive. He has already signed an executive order banning travel to the US from several Muslim-majority nations and has described several nations from which immigrants arrive in the US as ‘shithole countries.’
Critics of Trump’s immigration ban claim that the coronavirus represents an opportunity to further the President’s anti-immigration rhetoric, and with an election coming up, this move serves to stir up his anti-immigrant voters and push his ‘buy American, hire American’ policy.
Stirring up anti-immigration rhetoric proved to be a successful tactic on the road to Trump becoming President in 2017. His election campaign was loaded with anti-immigrant sentiment and many pro-immigration advocates fear a repeat in the build-up to the 2020 election, using the coronavirus as leverage to restrict immigration to the US.
Coronavirus in the USA
According to figures from Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the virus globally, over 787,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the US, with more than 42,000 dying as a result of the disease.
Latest coronavirus updates, visa and immigration restrictions
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