An executive order could come anytime this week: report.
In a late night tweet, President Trump announced on Monday that he will sign an executive order “temporarily” suspending all immigration to the United States. The president said the move is to “protect the jobs” of U.S. citizens, in the wake of an economic meltdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Trump tweeted on Monday night, without offering any details.
Around 20 million U.S. jobs have been lost since the onset of the pandemic in the country last month.
“President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times,” said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in a statement on Tuesday morning.
She added, “As President Trump has said, ‘Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers. At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary.”
Predictably, Trump’s tweet has triggered panic among foreigners currently in the United States on H-1B visas, even though it is not clear how the executive order is going to affect them.
One twitter user, @diaodiao_yang, wrote. “I am an H1B worker. After working for the same firm for 3 years, my visa will be up for renewal this August. Trump’s immigration ban might result in me not being able to get a new visa, thus not being able to continue my employment.”
I am an H1B worker. After working for the same firm for 3 years, my visa will be up for renewal this August. Trump's immigration ban might result in me not being able to get a new visa, thus not being able to continue my employment.
— DD Yang (@diaodiao_yang) April 21, 2020
Already H-1B employees have faced mass layoffs, especially those working as contractors. A New Jersey-based immigration lawyer told the American Bazaar on Monday that she knows of “hundreds of H-1B workers” who have been laid off.
Once an H-1B visa holder loses the lob, he or she has to find another employer willing to sponsor a visa in order to stay in the country within 60 days. With the economy in dire situation, it’s an impossible task.
The New York Times reported on Tuesday that Trump could “exempt large groups of workers from the ban, including farm laborers, health care workers and perhaps high-tech employees.”
However, Trump’s rationale that he needs “to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens” indicates that the H-1B program might also be a target.
The paper said “the order could come as soon as Tuesday, though probably later in the week.”
Any crackdown on H-1B visas is likely to be popular among the president’s base, which sees the visa program as a mortal threat to American workers.
While the president cannot ban H-1B holders who are already in the United States and are currently employed, it is possible to cancel the rollout of visas for applicants in the next fiscal year.
In fact, critics of H-1B have denounced the USCIS decision to go ahead with the H-1B lottery.
“There’s zero reason to import foreign laborers while millions of Americans are losing their jobs,” Ryan James Girdusky, a columnist for the rightwing TownHall.com wrote. “President Trump could protect American workers by canceling this year’s H-1B lottery — but it looks like it’s going to proceed as usual.
“Even in good times, the H-1B program was rife with abuse. Congress created it in 1990 with the idea to allow businesses to import foreign workers for highly specialized jobs that couldn’t be filled domestically. But the legislation was written in such a way that the program could be used to displace qualified Americans with lower-wage guest workers.”