Trump to Halt New Green Cards for 60 Days

Photo: “Social Justice” by Bruce Emmerling. Wikimedia Commons.

The United States will temporarily halt the issuance of green cards, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday evening. The announcement follows a Monday night tweet from Trump painting the move as a protective measure for the economy. 

The 60-day pause on most immigration will not jeopardize the status of any current green card holders residing in the United States. And since the pandemic began, the United States has limited foreign visitation to the country and stopped processing nonworker visas. 

However, the ban may signal a willingness to use the pandemic and economic crisis as a pretext for  shutting down the nation’s borders; Trump announced that he would “re-evaluate the policy based on economic conditions” 60 days from now, instead of committing to let the ban lapse. 

This ban also promises to harm a particular group of U.S. residents: Americans with family living abroad. President Trump’s immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, who has been accused of harboring white supremacist beliefs, has sought to limit the practice of sponsoring relatives abroad. While White House officials stated that Americans could still sponsor children or spouses who are living abroad, other relatives of green card holders would be blocked from entry. 

According to the Migration Policy Institute, this change could affect as many as 660,000 individuals. 

Photo by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Wikimedia Commons.

While the President justified this move as an attempt to protect American workers, there is little evidence that such a move would yield any economic benefits. Despite the fact that immigration to the United States has effectively been on hold since the start of the pandemic, the number of unemployed Americans has risen to 22 million – the most since the Great Depression

And paradoxically, the order creates a massive exception for guest worker visas – a massive concession made to business groups and farmers after they criticized the President’s plans. While President Trump’s administration had tried to carve out exceptions for certain guest workers and keep other prohibitions intact, they ultimately abandoned the plan and instead eased the requirements for employers who use H-2A work visas. 

This move immediately drew criticism from advocates and opponents of the President’s anti-immigrant stance. They called attention to White House’s pattern of curtailing immigration during election years and decried this move as an attempt to distract from President Trump’s mishandled response in the early months of the crisis. 

“Trump will ban immigration but allow some Southern states to loosen restrictions,” Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) said in a tweet on Monday. “This has nothing to do with our safety and everything to do with his blatant xenophobia.” 

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