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Trump Says He Will Temporarily Ban Immigration Into The US. What Exactly Will That Mean?

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • President Donald Trump late Monday said he would issue an executive order banning immigration into the United States, a move to protect the health and job security of Americans. 
  • However, most immigration experts were left wondering what the details of the order would look like. A draft proposal suggests it will entail a ban on work visas for three months, but with notable exceptions. 
  • The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 40,000 Americans and left more than 20 million out of work, prompting the administration to take further action on immigration into the United States.

President Donald Trump declared that he would be banning immigration into the United States, drawing strong reactions from both sides of the immigration debate, but also leaving the public wondering about what such an order will exactly mean.

The president, in a Monday night tweet, said he would be issuing an executive order to suspend immigration into the United States, saying such a move would protect American workers amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, neither the administration nor the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stipulated on the particulars of such an order.

While there are groups that are supportive of the idea, they are still waiting to see what exactly is inside the order.

“The issuance of an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the country would protect American interests amid a global pandemic. This is an encouraging announcement, but we have to see the details first,” Matthew Tragesser, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Tuesday.

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Canine Handler Agent Jose Solis, looks for the trail of suspects with his dog Max, a Belgian Malinois, Marfa, Texas on January 29, 2020. (Photo by Paul Ratje / AFP) (Photo by PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images)

Tragesser pointed to the “unprecedented health and unemployment crisis” caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Mass immigration into the country when 42,000 Americans have died from the disease and more than 22 million have lost their jobs would present health risks and displace Americans from jobs, he added.

“Simply put, supporting mass immigration at the height of a crisis like this is irresponsible. The majority of Americans view this in the same way,” Tragesser said.

The White House, while not yet divulging the specifics of the executive order, repeated similar comments on Tuesday. Tim Murtaugh, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, said the order would address the health and economic concerns posed by the coronavirus.

“Preventing further entrance of people potentially infected with the virus is an additional safety measure for the country,” Murtaugh added.

News of the moratorium on legal immigration came as many forms of immigration into the United States is already temporarily prohibited.

All non-essential travel along the country’s northern and southern borders is banned, and all illegal entrants are being quickly turned back — per orders the administration first gave in March. The White House has suspended a plan to release thousands of H-2B visas in response to millions of Americans losing their jobs, and the refugee program has also been put on hold. (RELATED: Trump Administration Suspends Refugee Program During Coronavirus Outbreak)

How will the new executive order build on what’s already in place?

The order would prohibit entry of foreign nationals seeking most types of work visas for at least 90 days, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News. Employees in the technology industry, many of them on H1-B visas, would be required to prove that they are not displacing American workers.

The order does come with some notable exceptions.

Individuals seeking work in “food production and directly helping to protect the supply chain,” would be exempt, according to Bloomberg. Additionally, health care or medical research professionals would not be affected by the ban. Asylum seekers, refugees and the spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents would also not be affected.

“I have determined that we cannot jump start the domestic economy if Americans are forced to compete against an artificially enlarged labor pool caused by the introduction of foreign workers,” the president said in the draft. “I have determined that the entry of most aliens as permanent or temporary workers in the immediate term would have adverse impacts on the national interest.”

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A Border patrol officer walks along the US-Mexico border fence at Borderfield State Park in San Ysidro, California on November 20, 2018. (Photo by Sandy Huffaker / AFP) (Photo credit should read SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

The order is expected to become public within the next few days, or even sooner.

“It is under review by the Department of Justice, and it could be released today or in the coming days,” Rosanna Berardi, an immigration attorney for more than two decades, told the DCNF on Tuesday. Berardi noted that the immigration order wouldn’t stop the spread of COVID-19 given that the border has already been closed off.

“U.S. immigration has basically been stopped for the last month — the Canadian border is closed, the Mexican border is closed. There’s no international travel coming into the United States,” she said.

“So to allege that it will stop the spread of the virus is not factually correct because if he’s going to further stop immigration, it’s going to be for people that are already in the United States,” Berardi continued. (RELATED: Report: Trump Admin Is Opening Cases In Federal Court To Get The Border Wall Completed)

While the public waits for more information, the president’s tweet has nonetheless drawn strong reactions from both sides of the immigration debate. Democrats and progressive groups opposed to the announcement accused the White House of xenophobia, and of attempting to create a distraction.

Organizations that favor less immigration into the United States expressed pleasure with the announcement. Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), for example, pushed back against the idea that the order would be illegal.

“President Trump’s action to suspend all immigration is perfectly legal and appropriate. Federal law endows the chief executive with broad powers in times of national crisis,” Dale Wilcox, the executive director of IRLI, said in a statement provided to the DCNF.

He continued: “Coronavirus is crippling both the health and work prospects of American citizens. To allow a continued influx of foreign nationals at this time would only worsen the situation.”

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