President Trump intends to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States as the nation works to slow the spread of the coronavirus and deal with its economic impact.
In a tweet Monday night, the president said he would be signing an executive order to halt immigration in the next few days.
"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!" he tweeted.
Meant to protect jobs
White House officials are still finalizing the language in the order, but it’s expected to pause the issuance of new green cards and work visas for the next several months. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the action is intended to bring about positive changes in the U.S. employment landscape.
"President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times," she said in a statement. "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."
Criticism from Democrats
After Trump tweeted about his plan, Democratic officials accused the president of using the pandemic to further his anti-immigration stance.
"This action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives, but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda. We must come together to reject his division," tweeted Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
"Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country. This is just xenophobic scapegoating," Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted.
Although COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in the U.S., President Trump recently fueled efforts by those who have gathered to protest stay-at-home orders.
"LIBERATE MICHIGAN! ... LIBERATE MINNESOTA! ... LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!" he tweeted.
Around 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last month. For a president who has made strengthening the economy a key element of his campaign, the virus’ impact on the economy has been significant.