Donald Trump says will suspend immigrations to save Covid-19 jobs losses

More than 22 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in last four weeks of stay-at-home lockdowns in force in most parts of the United States.
US President Donald Trump answers a question during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington.(REUTERS)
US President Donald Trump answers a question during the daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House in Washington.(REUTERS)
Updated on Apr 21, 2020 10:15 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Washington | ByYashwant Raj

President Donald Trump on Monday said he is temporarily suspending immigration to protect American jobs threatened by the dire economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak. India has been the top country of origin for legal immigrants to the US in recent years, with over 126,000 in 2017.

“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!” theAmerican president said in a post on twitter Monday evening.

More than 22 million people have filed for unemployment benefits in last four weeks of stay-at-home lockdowns in force in most parts of the United States.

It was not immediately clear from President Trump’s tweet what kind of immigrants would be impacted — new immigrants are mostly those applying for Green Cards on professional and family visas, refugees and asylum seekers.

The Trump administration was considering suspending some work visas and Green Cards for 120 days, CNN reported Tuesday morning citing sources. HT was not able to independently verify it.

But temporary foreign workers hired on H-1B, tourists and business visitors — the most popular visas for Indians — are unlikely to be impacted because they are on non-immigrant visas.

The order is likely to be challenged in court, said industry sources.

A response was awaited from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services for what to expect, and who are likely to be impacted, or not. It was not clear if immigrations applications already in the system will be frozen because of the order, and if that could happen to Green Cards as well.

More than 1 million new immigrants are admitted to the United states every year. India sent the most in 2017 with 126,000 people, according to a Pew study. It was followed by Mexico (124,000), China (121,000) and Cuba (41,000). Overall, people from Mexico comprise the largest group of foreign-born US national in 2018 at 25%, followed by India and China, with 6% each, according to the same report.

There were no indications Tuesday when the US president planned to issue the executive order, which could effectively shut down the legal immigration system for an indefinite period.

While Trump has striven to block all illegal immigration, a key election promise, he has explicitly and repeatedly supported legal, merit-based immigration. The annual diversity visa, granted to residents of underrepresented countries, have been discontinued and intake of refugees has also been curtailed.

The number of immigrant visas have dropped by about 25% from 617,752 in 2016, the year before President Trump took office, to 462,422, according to official US data.

There has been a growing chorus of demand from Republican lawmakers and conservative analysts and commentators in recent days demanding a suspension of immigration in view of the increasing job losses due to the epidemic and the shutdown in place to slow and stop it.

“25 million Americans are unemployed today. All immigration should be halted until every citizen who wants a job has a job,” Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman from Arizona and staunch Trump ally, wrote on Twitter last week.

And Jeff Sessions, former US attorney general and estranged Trump aide who has been an immigration hawk, has called on the federal government to “IMMEDIATELY halt immigration to the United States until Americans are back to work”.

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