The deadline to extend a controversial executive order suspending several temporary US work visas is fast approaching for President Trump. The outgoing US President, who ordered the temporary suspension of US work visas amid the coronavirus, is under pressure from certain anti-immigration groups to extend the ban into 2021.
Should Trump extend the ban, it will put pressure on President-elect Joe Biden to quickly overturn the suspension. According to sources monitoring the situation, the Trump camp is said to be divided over whether the President should enforce an extension.
In June, Trump signed an executive order halting the processing of new applications for H1B visas, H2B visas, H4 visas, L1 visas and certain J1 visas. The current suspension is set to end on 31 December 2020, giving Trump just days to extend it or let it lapse.
Support for extending the ban from anti-immigration groups
Supporters of extending the ban argue that rising coronavirus cases and deaths in the US justify taking the suspension into 2021, while some say that it will create a ‘potential political headache for Joe Biden.’
The White House nor the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has disclosed whether Trump will extend his US work vis suspension.
The ban was initially introduced under the guise that it would create more job opportunities for American workers who had become unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, most US immigration routes had already been closed off because of travel restrictions.
Meanwhile, many American companies have stated that certain job roles that existed prior to the pandemic will not be filled again.
In recent days, a number of conservative groups have urged the Trump administration to extend US visa suspensions, despite the American economy failing to fully recover from the impact of the pandemic.
Since Thanksgiving, unemployment claims have surged once again, rising above 800,000 as coronavirus cases also increase with new daily records set for the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
RJ Hauman, head of government relations at the anti-immigration Federation for American Immigration Reform, which sent Trump a letter advocating for an extension, said: “Given that we are still in the midst of the worst economic crisis in living memory, extending the proclamation well into 2021 should be an easy decision.”
“The question then becomes this: will President-elect Biden immediately side with powerful business interests that continue to demand more cheap, foreign labor? Or will he realize that high levels of immigration and guest worker admissions are an impediment to American workers recovering along with the economy?”
In the run up to his US election win, Joe Biden pledge to ‘undo’ many of Trump’s controversial US immigration policies, starting with the scrapping of the travel ban imposed on several Muslim-majority nations on day one of his presidency.
Biden has also committed to reversing policies that separate children from their parents at the US southern border with Mexico, while promising to review the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) US immigration program and restore refugee admissions to the levels seen prior to the Trump administration.
Additionally, the President-elect vowed to ‘reform’ the US visa and immigration system.
However, the Biden transition team has given no indication as to whether he will revoke the extended suspension of temporary US work visas.
Trump stands to face the wrath of business groups should he extend the ban, while several Republican lawmakers expressed their disapproval of the existing ban when it was announced in June.
At the time, a joint lawsuit was filed by the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and other business groups, which argued that America had benefitted hugely from temporary work visa holders.
In a recent statement, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Association of Manufacturers, Linda Kelly, said: “Banning critical and skilled workers from entering the country was a mistake, and it disrupted manufacturers’ fight against COVID-19 at exactly the wrong time.”
“Manufacturers’ legal case halted the ban and ensured we could continue leading our pandemic response and economic recovery. Any effort to extend this misguided and unlawful policy would only hamper recovery efforts and undermine innovation at this consequential moment in our nation’s history,” Kelly added.
Back in June, staunch Trump ally and supporter of US immigration reform, Senator Lindsey Graham, said: “Those who believe work visas hurt the American worker do not understand the American economy.”
With the extension deadline looming, Senator Graham’s office has not commented on any potential extension of Trump’s executive order.
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