US President Donald Trump said he will sign an executive order suspending all immigration into the United States, citing the need to protect American jobs amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.
“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 said in a tweet on Monday night.
With the president increasingly optimistic about the battle against Covid-19 in daily press briefings, the move to close the country’s borders outright came out of left field, even as Trump repeatedly encourages US states to lift their lockdown measures and resume economic activity.
No details about the order itself have yet been made public, and it’s unclear whether the administration informed other nations before the president’s tweet, but the announcement has already garnered intensely polarized reactions from supporters and critics online.
A number of conservative lawmakers met the idea with approval, with Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) urging the administration to help millions of Americans get back to work “before we import more foreigners to compete for their jobs.”
Democratic critics of the president were far less enthusiastic, as one might expect. Virginia Congressman Don Beyer slammed the move as “xenophobic scapegoating,” adding “Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country.”
While Trump took office on vows to limit immigration into the US, promising to build a “big, beautiful wall” at the border with Mexico to stem the influx of illegal migrants entering the country, a full border closure – even a temporary one – was never part of his proposal. The commander in chief has repeatedly hailed previous moves to temporarily bar travel from China and Europe over concerns about the coronavirus, but he’s made no mention of a complete travel ban, including at Monday’s lengthy press briefing.
It was not immediately clear when the new executive order will come into effect, how long the ban will last and what exemptions, if any, the policy will allow.