President Donald Trump tweeted on April 20, “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.”
He offered no details as to what immigration programs might be affected by the order. But according to the New York Times, the order would temporarily bar “the provision of new green cards and work visas,” which means the administration will “no longer approve any applications from foreigners to live and work in the United States for an undetermined period of time.”
Due to the pandemic, almost all visa processing by the State Department, including immigrant visas, has been suspended for weeks. It’s unknown how much of an impact the new order will have.
Trump has taken credit for his restrictions on travel to the United States from China and hard-hit European countries, arguing it contributed to slowing the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. And Trump has won some support from conservative Republican lawmakers for his proposal, which was framed as saving jobs for Americans as unemployment rises during the pandemic.
What about when America reopens? Will it also reopen to immigrants? Trump’s tweets send a doubly damaging message: Immigrants are both a health risk and an economic risk.
Sen. Kamala Harris blasted Trump’s announcement as xenophobic. The former Democratic presidential candidate said Trump “failed to take this crisis seriously from day 1,” and that Trump is “shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda.”
Let’s remind Trump that immigrants account for nearly half of the U.S. workforce with a science or engineering doctorate, including 60% of workers in computer and mathematical sciences. One in four doctors and one in eight registered nurses are immigrants.
And let’s not forget the 2019 study by New American Economy that found that immigrants and the children of immigrants founded 45% of Fortune 500 companies in the United States, amassing $6.1 trillion in annual revenue in 2018.
Let’s not allow Trump to distract from efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic or divide this country even further through this executive order.