President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday that will halt most immigration into the United States for 60 days.
“I have determined that the entry, during the next 60 days, of certain aliens as immigrants would be detrimental to the interests of the United States,” Trump said in the order, which takes effect at 11:59 p.m. on April 23.
“I have determined that, without intervention, the United States faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labor supply outpaces labor demand,” Trump added.
Trump’s order noted that Americans who are already unemployed or face disadvantages are further strained by the competition immigrants pose for jobs that are scarce. Expanding the immigrant population will only further strain the labor market and healthcare system, Trump said.
“We must be mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labor market, particularly in an environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labor. We must also conserve critical State Department resources so that consular officers may continue to provide services to United States citizens abroad,” Trump said.
The order applies to immigrants currently outside the U.S., lacking a valid immigrant visa, and lacking official travel documents.
The order exempts refugees, current lawful residents, those in necessary medical professions, spouses or children of U.S. citizens, U.S. military service members and their dependents, applicants to the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program or the Special Immigrant Visa, and those otherwise deemed essential to national interest.
“This will ensure unemployed Americans will be FIRST in line for jobs as our economy re-opens and preserve our healthcare resources for American patients,” the White House said.
This is a temporary pause demanded by the crisis we are facing as a Nation.
The pause will be in effect for 60 days, and the Administration will continue to monitor the labor market to amend or extend the proclamation if needed.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) April 22, 2020
“This is a temporary pause demanded by the crisis we are facing as a Nation,” the White House added. “The pause will be in effect for 60 days, and the Administration will continue to monitor the labor market to amend or extend the proclamation if needed.”
In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump had announced his intention to sign the order. “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 said.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2020
The decision comes as the number of unemployed Americans rose to 22 million due to a nationwide shutdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Several American workers groups, such as American Workers Coalition and NumbersUSA, already praised Trump’s upcoming executive order.
Immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services were already paused by the Trump administration on March 20 as non-essential offices closed. However, exemptions were provided for critical visa services, such as those for medical professionals.
Aside from immigration, the Trump administration has also restricted incoming foreign travel from China, Europe, Mexico, and Canada in the previous several months to reduce the spread of coronavirus.
The U.S. State Department also issued an advisory on March 31 warning all U.S. citizens to avoid international travel.
Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Saturday that the U.S.-Canadian border would remain closed for another 30 days.
“The agreement is the same terms. It’s just extended for another 30 days. It will ensure we continue to get essential goods and services back and forth across the border,” Trudeau said, as USA Today reported.
Essential workers, such as medical professionals and truck drivers, are permitted to cross the border during the closure.