Analysis | Trump has taken his administration’s war on immigration to the next level

President Donald Trump. File   | Photo Credit: AP

With his decision to suspend issuance of green cards for at least 60 days, U.S. President Donald Trump has taken his administration’s war on immigration to the next level. The Republican President, while announcing the decision on Tuesday, said it’s needed to protect American jobs at a time when the unemployment crisis in the U.S. is worsening amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

What does the suspension mean?

On Monday, Mr. Trump had tweeted that he would “suspend immigration” to protect American jobs. On Tuesday, he said in a press briefing that the executive order, which is still being written, would suspend issuing new green cards for 60 days, but would spare guest worker programmes. The New York Times reported that Mr. Trump had considered stopping new immigrant visas, but backed off in the face of protests from businesses. Now, the order would not impact immigrants already living in the U.S. or those who come on temporary visas for work or travel, including H1B visa holders and temporary farm workers.

American citizens will still be able to bring their spouses and children to the U.S., but the relatives of the current green card holders or those who want to apply for green cards based on a job offer would be blocked for the time period, according to administration officials. Mr. Trump has said that after 60 days, the policy will be evaluated “based on economic conditions” in the country, which he would personally assess. Between October 2018 and October 2019, the U.S. had issued about 5,77,000 green cards.

Rationale behind the decision

According to President Trump, the decision is needed to protect American jobs. “We want to protect our U.S. workers and I think as we move forward, we will become more and more protective of them,” he said. About 22 million Americans lost jobs over the past month as the pandemic has devastated the economy. “By pausing immigration, we will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens. So important,” said the President, explaining the rationale behind his decision. Administration officials painted the move as a healthcare emergency step. National Security Adviser Robert O-Brien said on Tuesday, before Mr. Trump’s briefing, that the President’s decision was to protect the American people’s health.

Political calculations

The administration has already restricted immigration to the U.S. in the wake of the pandemic. It has barred travel to the U.S. from China and much of Europe and sealed off the land borders with Canada and Mexico for non-essential travel. In March, the State Department suspended visa processing at its Consulates and Embassies overseas, which has practically brought issuance of new visas to a halt. Illegal immigrants being apprehended on the country’s southern border are being sent back. The administration has also announced visa sanctions on countries that do not take back their citizens being deported from the U.S. With the new move, Mr. Trump has not only tightened his immigration policy but also sent a the boldest message yet to his support base that the President is committed to crack down on both legal and illegal immigration, a hot issue among the conservative and right-wing voters.

Also read: U.S. President Donald Trump announces new points-based green card system

It also gels with Mr. Trump’s strategy of building counter-narratives to the mounting criticisms of his administration’s handling of the virus crisis. The U.S. has the most number of confirmed infections — 8,26,250 cases so far and rising. The country has also seen at least 45,150 deaths. Mr. Trump faces criticism for failing in moving fast in containing the outbreak in the early days and mobilising resources to fight its spread. But Mr. Trump has rebuffed such criticism and blamed China and WHO for the crisis. He first called the virus “Chinese virus” and then suspended funding for the WHO. He attacked the “stay at home” orders issued by State Governors and even endorsed protests organised by his supporters to end the restrictions in States. Now, by suspending immigration, he’s back to his favourite agenda in an election year in the midst of the severest economic crisis in decades.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 8:08:25 AM |

Next Story