The 60-day moratorium will apply only to immigrants seeking permanent residence permits, also known as “green cards,” Trump said on Tuesday at the daily White House press conference about the US coronavirus response.
“By pausing immigration we’ll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens,” the president said. “It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad.”
The order has not been officially issued yet. Trump tweeted about it on Monday evening, setting off a frenzy of speculation as to what it might involve.
Bloomberg News reported on a draft envisioning a 90-day ban on most work visas, with exemptions for workers in “food production and directly helping to protect the supply chain,” as well as health care or medical research professionals.
Trump admitted that there will be “certain exemptions” from the ban, saying that “some people would be able to get in” but declined to elaborate. White House lawyers were still working on the executive order, he said, noting that he will sign it “most likely” on Wednesday.
When asked about details, Trump did not rule out “secondary” orders further restricting immigration, but would not give specifics. He did confirm that farmers will not be affected by the ban, and that migrant workers will be allowed to come in.
What the president announced instead is a 60-day ban narrowly tailored to exclude green card applicants. Depending on economic conditions, it can be extended beyond that deadline.
Trump faced criticism over the proposed ban from both the left and the right. Democrats denounced it as “xenophobic” and “un-American,” while extolling the virtues of immigrants both legal and otherwise.
Some of Trump’s allies on the right also grumbled about the order, saying that it doesn’t go far enough to actually make a difference, because it doesn’t affect temporary workers.