In Brief

Donald Trump says he will suspend immigration to US

US president accused of exploiting crisis to promote ‘America First’ policies

Donald Trump has said he will sign an executive order to temporarily suspend all immigration to the US because of the coronavirus.

Writing on Twitter, the US president announced: “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!”

The BBC says it is not certain that the president will be able to carry out the order, and CNN says “it’s unclear what mechanism Trump will use to suspend immigration and it is also unclear how long such a suspension could last”.

Nevertheless, reaction has been swift. Thomas Homan, Trump’s former acting director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said: “It makes sense to protect opportunities for our workforce while this pandemic plays out.” 

Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman, said: “Thank you, @realDonaldTrump! All immigration to the United States should halt until every American who wants a job has one!” More than 22 million people apply for unemployment benefits in the last month.

However, the former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro tweeted: “You cut off immigration, you crater our nation’s already weakened economy. What a dumb move.”

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USA Today adds that Trump’s critics believe the president is “using the crisis” to “further America First policies that have long been focused on making it more difficult for foreigners to live and work in the US”.

The author Garrett M. Graff says that Trump’s announcement comes as the Department of Homeland Security has no Senate-confirmed leadership in immigration.

On Twitter, he wrote: “Whatever this means, it comes at a time when @DHSgov, which oversees immigration, has no Senate-confirmed leadership on this issue. No Sec, Dep Sec, no General Counsel, and no head of *ANY* of the three border/immigration agencies.”

In the US, more than 785,000 people have been confirmed as having Covid-19 and more than 42,000 have died.

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