On Monday, April 20, 2020, US President Donald Trump said that all immigration into the US would be temporarily suspended through an executive order to protect the jobs of its citizens amid the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s new move was strongly criticized by Democrats saying that his government was trying to divert the public attention from the pandemic that caused unprecedented health crises as well as economic turmoil in the country.
Trump’s Immigration Agenda
Trump’s promise of curbing immigration into the US drew wide attention of Americans, which was one of the key agendas for his 2016 Presidential election, led to his victory in the election by defeating Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton. It seemed that Trump wanted to use the immigration agenda to draw the attention of Americans and revive his momentum for the upcoming presidential election of 2020 to be held in November.
In his three initial years in the White House, Trump and his advisers have spent considerable time bringing down both legal and illegal entries into the US especially from its neighboring country, Mexico. Republican supporters of Trump, who once chanted “Build the Wall!” at his political rallies, are now faded away due to the virus impact that brought the US economy to a near standstill and the country’s unemployment rate exploded.
Taking advantage of the situation that more than 22 million people applied for unemployment benefits in the last month in the US, Trump announced his immigration agenda under the pretext to achieve his long-term policy to curb immigration as well as protect employment in the country.
Trump declared that he was taking the action to protect the U.S. workforce as millions of Americans became jobless after companies practiced lay off employees amid nationwide lockdowns to stop the widespread virus.
Democrats Attack on Trump
Trump said in a tweet, “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.” However, the White House declined to offer explanations of Trump’s new move apart from his rhetoric agenda of protecting employment for Americans.
The decision invited sharp condemnation from some Democrats, who accused the president of creating a distraction from his responsibility towards coronavirus responses. Former Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar said in a tweet, “As our country battles the pandemic, as workers put their lives on the line, the President attacks immigrants & blames others for his own failures.”
In a similar note, former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro said in a tweet, “You cut off immigration, you crater our nation’s already weakened economy… What a dumb move.”
Nonetheless, Thomas Homan, Trump’s former acting director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, defended, “It makes sense to protect opportunities for our workforce while this pandemic plays out… It’s really not about immigration. It’s about the pandemic and keeping our country safer while protecting opportunities for unemployed Americans.”
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