(Channel TT Desk): President Donald Trump said Tuesday his forthcoming executive order barring new immigration will apply only to people seeking green cards, last 60 days and won't affect workers entering the country on a temporary basis.
Spelling out details of the measure for the first time since tweeting late Monday he would "temporarily suspend immigration into the United States," Trump announced something short of a full halt on immigration amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, he said the provision would amount to a 60-day pause only on people seeking permanent resident status in the United States.
Trump said the executive order is being written now and he is likely to sign it on Wednesday. He said he would review the executive order at the end of that period and decide if it should be renewed.
Trump suggested there will be economic effects of the order, indicating it would "protect American workers," and noted that it will have certain exemptions.
"By pausing immigration, we'll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens," Trump said. "It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American workers."
Even before Trump provided more specific details about his move, his reelection campaign and allies were already touting and defending the executive order, reflecting the political underpinnings of Trump's late-night announcement on Monday.
The move -- which could prove largely symbolic, given the restrictions on immigration already in place due to the coronavirus pandemic -- allows Trump and his campaign to play directly to his base on the issue of immigration, which the President believes won him the 2016 election and he hopes to use again in 2020.
But it also stands to affect tens of thousands of people waiting to immigrate to the US, some of whom may be family members of US citizens. Approximately 459,000 foreign national new arrivals to the US became green card holders in 2019, down 13% from 2018 arrivals, according to statistics from the Department of Homeland Security.
Trump's vague announcement late Monday came as a surprise to officials who scrambled to finalize the order on Tuesday morning.
There was "a lot of hype, but no real change to the current practice in place," said a US official, who added that most work visas and green card applications have been on hold due to coronavirus restrictions.
Over the course of recent weeks, the Trump administration has made more than a dozen changes to the US immigration system, citing the coronavirus pandemic -- largely cutting off immigration to the country. Refugee resettlement has been put on hold, visa offices are largely closed, citizenship ceremonies aren't happening, and the administration is swiftly removing migrants, including children arrested at the border, among a slew of other changes.
Administration officials began working on an executive order to further restrict immigration last week, according to a person familiar with the matter. But some of its provisions were still being fleshed out when Trump tweeted about it late Monday.
Facing criticism over his administration's response to the coronavirus, Trump had been impatient to announce the order, a person familiar with the matter said.
Trump's principal adviser on immigration, Stephen Miller, was involved in the discussions over the past several days, according to people familiar with the matter. Miller has long acted as a main internal advocate for limits on immigration through executive action.
News Source: CNN