President Trump on Wednesday fulfilled his vow to issue an executive order pausing immigration into the US, a move he said would protect American workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In order to protect our great American workers, I suspended immigration into the United States. This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” the president said at the White House during the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing.
“We will also preserve our health care resources for American patients. We have to take care of our patients and our great American workers and that’s what we are doing,” Trump continued.
“I just signed [the order] just before coming into the room and [it’s] very important, very important. And as to amending it or extending it, that we can do at the appropriate time, but it’s now signed.”
The White House released a summary of the order, which calls for:
- Suspension of new immigrant visas to put American communities and workers first as the US moves toward safely reopening the economy.
- A pause that 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.
- Exemptions for medical and other essential workers to combat the outbreak, spouses and minor children of American citizens, and certain other aliens.
- A review guest worker programs to assess whether additional measures should be taken to protect American workers.
The administration said African Americans and other minorities, Americans without a college degree, and others were especially harmed by an influx of foreign labor.
Trump won the White House in 2016 in part on a promise to crack down on immigration and has made the issue central to his presidency.
Many key details of Trump’s planned executive order are still not known, but one Department of Homeland Security official who requested anonymity said it would only apply to people applying for permanent residence from outside the US, not those already in the country seeking to adjust their status.
Trump said the order initially would last for 60 days and could be renewed for the same period or longer, and that a second immigration-focused order was under consideration.