By Reuben Seguritan
Effective on April 23, 2020, President Trump suspended for 60 days the entry of any person seeking to enter as immigrant. The executive proclamation stated that the suspension was necessary because the immigrants presented a risk to the US during the economic recovery following the 2019 novel Coronavirus outbreak.
The proclamation further stated that “in the administration of our Nation’s immigration system, we must be mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the US labor market, particularly in an environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labor… The US faces a potentially protracted economic recovery with persistently high unemployment if labor supply outpaces labor demand. Excess labor supply affects all workers and potential workers, but it is particularly harmful to workers at the margin between employment and unemployment.” The proclamation noted that lawful permanent residents, once admitted are granted “open market” employment authorization documents, allowing them to compete for any job.
Those whose entry is suspended are those who: are outside the US on April 23, 2020; do not have an immigrant visa that is valid on the effective date; and do not have an official travel document other than a visa that is valid on April 23.
The following are exempted from the proclamation: lawful permanent residents; individuals entering as physician, nurse or other healthcare professional to perform research intended to combat the spread of Covid-19 or to perform work essential to combatting the effects of Covid 19; EB-5 immigrant investors; spouses and children under 21 of US citizens or who are prospective adoptees; those whose entry would help law enforcement ; members of the US armed forces and their spouses and children; special immigrants in the SI or SQ classification; and those whose entry would serve the national interest. Non immigrant visa holders are also exempted as are asylum seekers.
The suspension may be extended upon the recommendation of the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security after consultation with the Secretaries of State and Labor.
Some US government officials have said that the proclamation does not change what has already been happening since the lockdown orders in the US and countries abroad and bans on flights because of the covid-19 pandemic. Most employment-based and family-based visas were on hold since March because offices and embassies were closed. For example, the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines has been closed since March 16, 2020 because the Philippine government issued an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) order. The ECQ prevented non-essential workers from leaving their homes to reduce the spread of covid-19. Hence, the US Embassy has had to suspend routine consular services, including all visa services in order to comply with the order of the Philippine government and to protect its own employees and officers from getting covid-19. This means that no immigrant visa interviews have been conducted and in turn no green cards have been issued by the US Embassy in Manila since March 16, 2020.
Critics of the executive order, including some Democrats, have said that this 60 days suspension of entry of immigrants is a ploy to distract the people from the failures of President Trump and his administration in addressing the covid-19 pandemic. The United States has the most number of covid-19 cases and deaths in the world. Others have seen the executive order as a move to help President Trump’s reelection in November. This new ban on foreigners plays directly to his base of Americans and his message of strict immigration policies.
Other critics have pointed out through research and data that the presence of immigrants in the US has stimulated economic growth and created jobs. It is not true, they argue, that immigrants threaten Americans by getting jobs meant for them. Hence, the 60 days suspension will not help protect American workers and jobs.
REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. For further information, you may call him at (212) 695 5281 or log on to his website at www.seguritan.com.