Immigration In The News: COVID-19 And Immigration Changes

By April 22, 2020Immigration Law Blog
immigration in the news

Today we’re going to talk a little bit about immigration in the news and how COVID-19 is causing changes to immigration policy.

Immigration In The News: COVID-19 And Immigration Changes

On Monday, April 20th, President Trump used his preferred method of communication – Twitter – to tweet that in order to “protect the jobs of GREAT American citizens,” he would be temporarily suspending immigration to the U.S. The following day he provided more detail on this plan – his proposed change would only affect those people seeking green cards to become permanent US residents in the next 60 days. Whether or not temporary workers will be impacted by this change is uncertain.┬áPolitical analysts expect the executive order to be fully drafted by the end of the week (Friday, April 24th). Once finalized the order is expected to go into effect immediately.

Ulterior Motives?

Many are questioning whether this new move – which Trump insists he is making in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on the economy – is actually another thinly veiled attempt at clamping down immigration to further Trump’s agenda.

COVID-19 has already shut down any and all in-person immigration processing procedures, USCIS centers and consulates, but this new policy takes things one step further – placing a hold on green card applications. What’s the difference? Rafia Zakaria says it well in her CNN article “Trump’s moves on immigration reveal his true motives“:

“…the suspension of processing, which has been in place for several weeks, differs from the hold on green card applications that has just been announced by the President, in that it’s a cessation based on policy desires and not pandemic-related closures. In the former case, those waiting for new visas and those whose H-1B visas were running out were given a 60 day period in which to file their claims. During that time, they could remain in the country. It now seems those temporary residents may not be affected immediately by the executive order. However, many of those visa holders would have been waiting to convert their status to permanent residency; the typical H1-B or O visa-holder who applies for a green card is very likely to be a skilled or talented professional who has lived and worked in the US for several years. With the President’s announcement, those applicants for new visas will be thrown into chaos and may well have to leave.”

Kayleigh McEnany, Whitehouse Press Secretary, claimed that:

“the move was made to protect the health and economic well-being of Americans,” …Decades of record immigration had produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers.”

Zakaria points out that this statement is blatantly false and…

“A National Bureau of Economic Research study, which looked at the impact of immigration on US workers between 1990-2004 (the years of highest immigration to the United States), found that the wages of American-born workers actually increased owing to immigration.”

Trump has claimed that his immediate priority is to ensure that Americans have jobs and while he’s using this as a way to justify his green card lockdown idea, the truth is that this policy is likely to cause more harm to the economy and to the lives of American citizens. Why? Because of the sheer number of immigrants who play a vital role in our economy. Making life more complicated for these business owners and workers who immigrated to the U.S. and who have had a positive effect on the economy, is simply going to cause more economic uncertainty for an increasing number of people.

Who Faces The Biggest Repercussions?

While the implications of this are sure to affect immigrants in all categories, those who stand to bear the brunt of the change are the H-1B (or highly skilled worker) visa holders who are waiting for green cards. The possibility of losing their place in line for permanent residency means that many of these workers may be forced to return to their nation of origin.

The fallout of this decision can’t be predicted in its totality, but there is no question that the mass exit of so many valuable citizens – many of whom perform jobs that Americans are unable to do – is going to cause a significant gap in the workplace. While these jobs may then be available to Americans, the simple fact remains that many of these immigrants were selected for their jobs because there were no qualified Americans for the position…so what happens then?

There’s also the consideration of how many of these soon to be exiled immigrants currently play a role in the healthcare system that is so desperately trying to save American people right now? People who are putting their lives at risk to save Americans only to be booted out of the country…are we really that flush with medical staff?

Is Immigration In The News Affecting Your Daily Life?

If you’re an immigrant living in or seeking residence in the U.S. and you need legal advice on your immigration situation in or around Pasadena, California, Nelson Immigration can help. Give us a call today at 626-683-3451 and let us know how we can be of service to you.