indica News Bureau-
Donald Trump’s abrupt announcement of a freeze on immigration on Tuesday received mixed reactions from the citizens of US and across the globe. While may accuse him of using the pandemic as a distraction to divert attention from the mishandling of the crisis to advance his agenda, many came out in favor of the decision saying that the country needs to take care of its citizens before immigrants.
Trump announced via tweet Monday night that he plans to issue an executive order freezing immigration “in light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens”, arguing that immigration represents a threat to public health or to the U.S. economy. The argument, however, many says, at this stage in the crisis is questionable.
Defending the President against the accusations, the White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said, “President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times.” She added, “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, the action is necessary.”
“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,” tweeted Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, “but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda.”
Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, the Democrats’ 2016 vice presidential nominee, called Trump’s move a “pathetic attempt to shift blame from his Visible Incompetence to an Invisible Enemy.”
“When you’re a xenophobe, bans on migration are the only tired, failed, the hateful solution you can think of,” said Charanya Krishnaswami, Advocacy Director for the Americas at Amnesty International USA. “Suspending immigration won’t make the US – which currently leads among COVID cases worldwide – safe.”
The White House deflected charges of scapegoating and cast the new restrictions as a way to protect U.S. workers from the competition as the economy reopens, trying to defend the President.
Democratic Party national chairman Tom Perez blasted Trump for resorting to immigrant-bashing as a “crisis PR strategy.”
“He ignored the warnings of experts, he failed to prepare, and he spread lie after lie. Now …he needs a scapegoat,” Perez said, accusing Trump of trying to use “bigotry as a shield for his own incompetence. Right this minute, countless immigrants across the country are risking their lives to keep our country safe – in hospitals and grocery stores, at nursing homes and in our nation’s uniform.”
According to multiple news reports, the new executive order likely will include exceptions for healthcare workers and migrant farmworkers – a critical source of labor for American agriculture. It will not address the removal of immigrants already in the U.S. or the visa renewal process.
Immigrant advocates accused Trump of using the crisis as yet another pretext to promote racist stereotypes about disease-bearing foreigners and to advance a restrictionist agenda that Congress had repeatedly stymied.
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., called Trump the “xenophobe in chief.”
“Trump has finally handed over full presidential power to the far-right and immigration extremists,” said Yesenia Mata, executive director of La Colmena Immigrant Rights Center, an advocacy group in New York City, calling this an attempt by Trump’s immigration adviser Stephen Miller and other “xenophobes who are exploiting this crisis to completely close our country to the world.”
At the Trump campaign, spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the president “has two main goals: to protect the health and safety of Americans and to safeguard the economy. This decision addresses both…. The usual suspects are sniping from the sidelines, but they have always cared more about scoring political points against the president than they do about anything else.”
However, many citizens also supported the decision, calling it a much-needed step. Many conservative groups are also asking Trump to go further than the slate of travel restrictions and halt all foreign workers from entering the U.S., citing the millions of Americans who have been put out of work amid economic shutdowns intended to help slow the coronavirus outbreak.
When asked what prompted the decision, a top DHS official responded: “22 million unemployed Americans and counting due to COVID-19.”
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is running for a Senate seat in Alabama, was urging for a complete moratorium on immigration to the U.S. on Tucker Carlson’s show on Fox News last week. According to sources, Carlson has been in close contact with Trump during the course of this virus and was one of the primary outside allies pushing him to do the China travel ban back in early January.
Sessions tweeted, “Last week, I announced on @TuckerCarlson ’s show my plan to suspend immigration until Americans are back to work. It’s great news that @RealDonaldTrump is putting this into action!”
Immediately after the president’s tweet on Monday night, hard-line immigration groups cheered the decision.
“The president’s comments reflect a sensitivity to a primary purpose of all immigration laws of every country, and that is to protect a nation’s vulnerable workers,” said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which supports restrictions. “With tens of millions of Americans who want to work full time not able to, most immigration makes no sense today, and to allow it to continue at its current level at this time would show a callous disregard for those enduring deep economic suffering.”
“One question remains,” said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors immigration restrictions. “Are there any caveats like guest workers being excluded from the order? We’ll see.”