Using the current coronavirus pandemic as only partial justification, Donald Trump announced Monday that he intends to sign an executive order halting all immigration to the United States on a temporary basis.
“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 on Monday night.
It is unclear what prompted the decision on Monday, or why protecting “jobs” was included as a justification. While it’s true that the U.S. is currently mired in a severe economic contraction, the situation is a side effect of shutdown measures taken across the country in an attempt to facilitate social distancing and slow the spread of coronavirus, which has killed more than 40,000 people since Feb. 29. There is no evidence that any of the jobs lost since the shutdowns began were actually just given to immigrants instead.
In addition, restrictions on travel from several known coronavirus hotspots, including China, Iran and several EU countries, went into effect March 11. Trump also banned nonessential travel from Mexico, and the US and Canada mutually agreed to close borders, on March 21. If Trump makes good on Monday’s announcement, it would be the first time all immigration, period, has been restricted.
Restricting several kinds of immigration to the United States, especially by Muslims, has been one of Trump’s longstanding priorities. Trump has banned travel from several countries, most of them majority-Muslim, beginning with a series of executive orders in early 2017. Several appeals courts ruled against that ban, but on a strict party line vote the Supreme Court upheld it in June, 2018. He expanded the list of affected countries in January, in a move entirely unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic.