First: We are suffering a sky-high unemployment rate right now. It is not crazy to think we shouldn’t be bringing in foreign labor when so many Americans are out of work. This point applies especially strongly during the months when the problem is most severe, and to the regions and sectors most affected.
Second: The president’s order is mild in some ways but broad in others. It won’t affect people who are already in the country, which substantially limits its impact. (These folks not only may stay, but also may receive new visas if they need them.) Yet the order stops new immigration in numerous categories — restricting “H-1B visas, which generally go to tech workers,” plus “H-2B visas for low-skill jobs, J visas for those participating in work and student exchanges and L visas for intracompany transfers,” as NBC News summarizes — through the end of the year.
Third: If Congress doesn’t like this policy, perhaps it should take responsibility for immigration law. Right now the president has the authority to shut off any type of immigration he feels like shutting off. From the U.S. Code:
Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
The president needs some authority to deal with emergencies, but he doesn’t need the power to rewrite immigration law for the better part of a year. Three months after COVID-19 began sweeping the country, Congress has already passed several coronavirus-related pieces of legislation and plans to pass another. There’s no reason it couldn’t have decided how to handle the immigration aspect of the problem too by now.