Brett Samuels, The Hill, April 20, 2020
President Trump on Monday said he will sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic, an extraordinary move that prompted immediate questions about its timing and scope.
“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.
The order would mark a stunning use of executive power by Trump, who hours earlier was speaking optimistically about the ability of certain states to begin reopening their economies despite the threat of the virus. It is likely to draw swift legal challenges.
Democratic officials late Monday accused Trump of using the pandemic as justification to cater to his base with the hardline immigration policy.
“This action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda. We must come together to reject his division,” tweeted Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
The move was initially met with approval by some conservatives who viewed it as a way to protect Americans facing economic hardship from the pandemic.
“22 million Americans have lost their jobs in the last month because of the China virus. Let’s help them get back to work before we import more foreigners to compete for their jobs,” tweeted Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of the most outspoken critics of China throughout the pandemic.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) praised Trump for putting “American citizens first.”