Trump signs executive order suspending immigration

Trump signs executive order suspending immigration

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States during the coronavirus outbreak.

"In order to protect our great American workers, I have just signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States," the U.S. leader said at a White House briefing Wednesday.

"This would ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy opens. It will also preserve our health care resources for American patients,” Trump added.

The order applies to those seeking permanent residence in the U.S. and will last for 60 days, at which point it will be reevaluated and potentially extended. Trump said he could change the order during the 60 days.

The order will apply to foreign nationals seeking a green card who are outside the U.S. at the time of the order, excluding from the suspension those who are in the country seeking to change their immigration status.

It also carves out exceptions for essential workers, including medical personnel, spouses and children of U.S. citizens, members of the Armed Forces, individuals designated by law enforcement, prospective foreign adoptees of U.S. citizens, and prospective "investor visa" users. Trump also noted Tuesday that the order would not apply to seasonal farm workers, who would seek seasonal guest worker visas.

The order includes a provision for the secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security to review nonimmigrant visa programs in consultation with the secretary of State to "recommend to me other measures appropriate to stimulate the United States economy and ensure the prioritization, hiring, and employment of United States workers."

By far, the largest category of immigrant visas are those granted to spouses and children of U.S. citizens. The hardest-hit category of immigrants will likely be those who seek green cards through their employers or on the basis of their professional merits.

"It could be modified. Right now, we have a very powerful immigration ban, but it may be modified, meaning made tougher or made less tough," The Hill cited him as saying.

Trump indicated that the primary goal of the order was to blunt the economic damage of the coronavirus, which has forced businesses countrywide to close and lay off workers. He acknowledged that his administration is also preparing a second order that he may later sign to further limit immigration but provided no further details on what shape it would take.

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