Originally published by USA Today
President Donald Trump's intention to suspend parts of the U.S. immigration system could have wide-ranging implications for industries that rely on foreign workers, experts say.
Trump has made immigration restrictions a hallmark of his administration, and his response to coronavirus has included a number of ways to curtail entry into the country. He has halted nonessential travel along the northern and southern borders, suspended flights from China and Europe and suspended regular visa services at U.S. embassies and consulates.
But if immigration was suspended broadly, it could discourage a wide variety of employment and may have a major effect on industries where millions of immigrants work, like health care, manufacturing, agriculture and academics.
Trump announced his intention in a tweet Monday to protect the jobs of American citizens during the pandemic by “signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”
About 22 million people have filed for unemployment claims since Trump declared a national emergency a month ago. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, quoted Trump in blaming lower wages and higher unemployment on decades of record immigration.
“President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times," she said in a statement. "At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary."
Trump indicated Tuesday that his executive order would halt new green card awards for at least 60 days and would be reevaluated after that period. The president stressed that his move would not affect temporary workers, such as seasonal workers arriving from other countries through several visa programs.
“It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad,” the president told reporters. “We must first take care of the American worker.”
Trump said his executive order, which the White House had not yet provided, would “only apply to individuals seeking a permanent residency, in other words, those receiving green cards.” Trump said he would most likely sign the executive order Wednesday.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., retweeted Trump and said it’s important to get people who were laid off back to work “before we import more foreigners to compete for their jobs.”
Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for lower levels of legal and illegal immigration, said skyrocketing unemployment in the country right now is all the reason necessary to close the nation’s borders.