AGENCIES, Washington: President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he would sign an executive order to suspend immigration for green card seekers for 60 days.
“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!” Trump elaborated in his tweet on Monday night.
“It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad, we must first take care of the American worker,” Trump said, adding that the pause “will be in effect for 60 days after which the need for any extension or modification will be evaluated by myself and a group of people, based on economic conditions at the time.”
Addressing an issue key to his conservative base as the country is ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 43,000 people dead in the US, Trump said his move would help Americans who have lost their jobs during the ongoing shutdown.
“By pausing immigration, it will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens,” Trump said at his daily pandemic briefing.
Trump said the order would “only apply to individuals seeking a permanent residency — in other words, those receiving green cards.”
“It will not apply to those entering on a temporary basis,” he added.
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) granted lawful permanent residence to around 577,000 individuals in 2019.
Trump said there would be exemptions that his administration would detail before the order is signed.
Prior to Tuesday evening’s announcement, White House officials informed media that foreign workers in certain sectors deemed “essential”— such as agricultural workers and medical professionals — would not be impacted because of the importance of the food supply and the availability of doctors, nurses, and other front-line medical workers to the nation’s fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
According to official data, the US government issued 462,000 visas in fiscal 2019, a major drop from the 617,000 visas granted in 2016 under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.
Trump’s Democratic opponents have slammed what they see as “an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives.” Trump has also been accused of taking advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda.
As per the existing US law, the country can issue a maximum of 1,40,000 employment-based Green Cards every year with a per country cap of seven per cent. In fiscal year 2019, Indian nationals received 9,008 category 1 (EB1), 2,908 category 2 (EB2), and 5,083 category 3 (EB3) green cards. EB1-3 are different categories of employment-based Green Cards.