The announcement came as President Donald Trump’s policy decisions often do — as a surprise to many of his staff. On Monday night, Trump tweeted he was halting most legal immigration to the U.S. in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic to “protect jobs.”
Several senior staffers were already home for the night when Trump made the announcement. On Tuesday, the executive order was still being written and vetted by White House lawyers, and crucial decisions were still being made about exactly how broad the blanket freeze in immigration will be, and whether there will be exceptions for seasonal agricultural workers, medical personnel or close relatives of U.S. citizens.
Not everyone, however, was caught off guard. While much of the world has been focused on the coronavirus outbreak, Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller has been agitating internally for the step, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli brought the policy proposal to Trump. Bringing legal immigration to a near standstill is just the latest part of a behind-the-scenes campaign Trump has launched since March to clamp down on legal migration and border security in the long shadow of the pandemic. Trump’s tough stance on immigration helped energize supporters in 2016, and Trump’s campaign wants to rekindle some of that energy going into the Nov. 3 elections.
Border officials have used the epidemic to remove more than 10,000 people who turned themselves in at the border ports of entry, without screening them for asylum claims. Starting in late March, the State Department quietly stopped issuing nearly all visas and cancelled interview appointments. Refugee admissions have been slashed to nearly zero. Border wall construction has been revved up; most recently, a $569 million no-bid contract was awarded to a firm owned by a GOP donor to build 17 more miles of border wall. Even the way coronavirus relief checks are rolling out has been designed to exclude many
Title: President Trump Has Blocked New Legal Immigrants. Here’s Where Else He’s Clamped Down on Immigration During the Coronavirus Outbreak
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Published Date: Wed, 22 Apr 2020 02:13:32 +0000