President Trump on Monday said he plans to issue an executive order suspending immigration to the U.S. over concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.
“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 president wrote in an evening tweet.
No details have yet been released about how long the suspension would continue or how it would affect different classes of prospective immigrants. The administration has already suspended travel to and from China and Europe as a means of stemming the spread of the virus.
The White House released a statement about Trump’s announcement on Tuesday.
“President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times. As President Trump has said, ‘Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers.’ At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
The virus originated in China and spread to Europe, with Italy and Spain quickly emerging as hot spots. Nonessential travel across the U.S.-Mexico border has also been restricted, “mostly, and even beyond, but mostly during this global pandemic,” Trump said. Those restrictions are the same as the ones the administration implemented for the Canadian border last month. The rules allow for essential travel, such as travel for trade purposes, medical reasons, emergency and public health services, or education-related travel.
Meanwhile, the respiratory illness continues to infect people across the U.S. even as states operating under stay at home orders look to restart their economies. Georgia will allow some businesses to reopen later this week, including barbershops and gyms, days after the Trump administration released guidelines for governors about relaxing social distancing restrictions.
Trump called to “liberate” Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia last week, sparking protests in those states and over a dozen more by groups demonstrating against restrictive social distancing measures imposed by governors.
As of Tuesday morning, the U.S. has more than 780,000 cases of the coronavirus, and more than 37,000 people have died.