‘The Optics Are Devastating’: Trump Pressed On Major Exemptions Inside Immigration Ban

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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President Donald Trump is continuing to face backlash from the right over the amount of exemptions included in his executive order limiting immigration into the United States.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a leading immigration restrictionist group based in Washington, D.C., delivered a letter to the president on Thursday, demanding to know why his order included exceptions for hundreds of thousands of foreign workers.

The carve-outs, FAIR said, are not helpful for American workers as millions have been left jobless under the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Not only does your exemption filled Executive Order apply to less than 10 percent of immigrants due according to FAIR’s analysis, it completely ignores what is arguably the largest component of foreign- born impact on the welfare of American workers: out of control guestworker programs including H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B,” wrote Dan Stein, the president of FAIR.

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U.S. Border Patrol agents detain undocumented immigrants caught near a section of privately-built border wall under construction on December 11, 2019 near Mission, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump on Monday first teased an upcoming executive order that would “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States” to protect the health of Americans and their job security.

However, as more details of the order surfaced, immigration hardliners were left disappointed.

The order puts a 60-day pause on green card applications from foreign nationals living abroad, but leaves exemptions for hundreds of thousands of temporary migrant workers. The order also does not affect green card applicants who are already living in the United States, minor children and spouses of U.S. citizens, as well health care workers, foreign investors and individuals who have already been approved for permanent residency.

“That’s an awful lot of exceptions,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson said shortly after the president gave a press briefing on Tuesday. “So if the point of this executive order was to protect American jobs — maybe there was another point, but if it was to protect American jobs, it failed.”

The battle over who should be allowed into the United States comes as the economy is free-falling.

The Department of Labor announced on Thursday that 4.4 million new unemployment claims were filed the prior week, bringing the total number filed during the coronavirus pandemic to more than 26 million. The World Bank anticipates a global recession not seen in decades.

“Under what craven notion of American equity would the United States continue a subordinated labor importation program at a time when American workers are in such distress?” Stein continued in his letter.

He continued: “The optics are devastating — we are becoming a two class society, with a servant caste relegated to guestworker status continuing apace while Americans search desperately for employment.” (RELATED: Migrant Workers Are Expected To Begin Sending Less Money Home)

Stein called on the president to “make things right” by issuing an executive order within the next 30 days that encompasses all forms of immigration — including guest worker programs. Such a move, he said, would help hundreds of thousands of unemployed U.S. citizens re-enter the economy.

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