President Donald Trump. RollingNews.ie file photo.
By Ray O’Hanlon
That was the sound of the Golden Door being closed – with a Tweet.
President Trump has signaled that he will move to halt immigration on a temporary basis so as to secure American jobs and as a tool in the fight against which he called an “invisible enemy,” that being Coronavirus.
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“Temporary” means sixty days, though the president has indicated the possibility could be extended.
The Washington Post reported that the president said the move would safeguard American jobs and defend the country from “the invisible enemy.”
An executive order of that nature would take the president’s impulses on immigration to an untested extreme, the Post report stated.
The New York Times, citing several people familiar with the plan, reported that a formal order temporarily barring the provision of new green cards and work visas could be one way of implementing the measure. The administration would no longer approve any applications from foreigners to live and work in the U.S. for an undetermined period of time.
In March, the U.S. suspended almost all visa processing, including for legal immigrants, because of the pandemic.
Any new restrictions will not apply to certain agricultural seasonal and technology workers, this after a fast and furious response to the president’s move by industry groups and lobbyists.
President Trump has indicated that he will follow up his Tweet with an Executive Order which he is expected to sign Wednesday.
His administration, with White House advisor Stephen Miller t0 the fore, was working towards reducing and changing the nature of legal immigration even before the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The latest move, should President Trump actually carry it to fruition, is certain to spark legal challenges and political blowback in what is already shaping up to be an especially contentious election year.
From a purely Irish perspective, any move to halt general immigration on a temporary basis will have little practical effect because the virtual absence of noticeable legal Irish immigration has been a permanent feature in all the years of this century.
Last year, just over one million people were granted lawful permanent resident status in the US, this according to the Department of Homeland Security. The leading countries from which immigrants arrived in the U.S. in 2019 were Mexico, China, India, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Cuba.
In terms of the number of legal immigrants living in the U.S., Ireland currently ranks somewhere in the mid-50s on the worldwide contributing country list.