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Trump Says He'll 'Temporarily Suspend Immigration' Over Coronavirus Fears
- President Trump on Monday at the White House. Late Monday evening, he tweeted that he would sign an “Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Doug Mills/The New York Times
President Trump, in a late-night tweet Monday, said he "will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States" in order to protect against the coronavirus and its economic toll.
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!
Details of the president's plan, including who it would apply to, how long it would last, and when it would go into effect, were unclear as of Tuesday morning.
Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that the president "is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times."
"As President Trump has said, 'Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers,'" she said. "At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary."
The move would be the broadest expansion of restrictions imposed in the U.S. since the outbreak of the pandemic earlier this year.
Trump campaigned and won the presidency on a pledge to reduce illegal immigration, and the number of people crossing the southern border illegally has dropped since he took office. He has also slashed the U.S. refugee-resettlement program and cracked down on asylum seekers. Still, his administration has tried to move the U.S. toward a points-based immigration system, such as those used in Canada and Australia.
Jared Kushner, Trump's son in law and senior adviser, had been quietly trying to resurrect discussions to overhaul the U.S. immigration system. Earlier this year, Kushner met with business leaders, immigration hard-liners and other interest groups with the goal of rolling out a new immigration plan once the president's impeachment trial ended. The status of those talks is unclear; they were conducted against the backdrop of a booming economy, which needed workers to fill critical job openings.
But the pandemic has already essentially erased the 22 million jobs created over the past decade, perhaps changing the prospects of an attempt to overhaul of the immigration system.
Earlier Monday, a federal judge in California ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to "identify and track" every person in ICE detention at an elevated risk of complications from COVID-19 and to consider releasing those detainees, regardless of their legal status.