Even though these are limited restrictions right now, there is nothing preventing the President Trump from imposing new registrations, says Charanjit Brahma, president of the South Asian Bar Association.
He believes it’s political, and the president could impose more restrictions, using the pandemic an excuse.
“Right now, restrictions are limited only to people seeking to immigrate currently outside the US. And so wouldn’t directly hurt people in the country applying for a Green Card. But there is nothing to prevent the president from issuing the second order that says now we are going to deny all existing Green Card applications, “ he said.
However, he added that there is no indication that Trump is going to go down that road, but “frankly it is very hard to tell what idea would prop out of his head next.”
“I think this president is looking for all kind of reasons to distract from federal responsibility to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “And immigrants are a handy scapegoat. And anything he does to restrict immigration I think people would support him,” Brahma said, referring to the upcoming presidential election in November.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the US, the virus has killed more than 72,000 people, and many observers have alleged it’s because of negligence of the US government.
Brahma says the president wants to distract voters from the failure of the government to take care of the pandemic.
Trump last month made a sudden announcement and has ordered a temporary ban on green card seekers from entering the country. The order, however, exclude spouses and minor children of American citizens, as well as foreign investors, health care workers and people with already approved green cards. But the order has created fear among immigrant communities.
The 60-day long ban took effect on April 23.
Trump from Day One has imposed and made several changes using executive power to curb immigration, Brahma said.
“I think one of the more worrisome about this system this year, they trying to use pandemic as an excuse,” he said.
SABA released a statement after the announcement saying they are concerned and that immigrants have contributed to this country and Trump should revoke the ban.
“Many of us in SABA are immigrants or the children of immigrants who sought to come to the United States for the numerous educational and work opportunities America provided,” Brahma said. “South Asian immigrants and their children, like immigrants from around the world, contribute in all sectors of the community and economy, most visibly on the front lines of the health response to the current crisis as treating physicians and medical staff, developers of vaccines and test kits, and as manufacturers of medical equipment.
“A 2019 Harvard study noted that 1 in 4 health care workers in America — the very people we are now relying on to get our nation through the pandemic — are immigrants. But South Asian Americans are also among the lawyers who maintain the critical functions of our justice system, delivery drivers, cooks and grocers who keep America fed, cleaners who make our common spaces safe from infection, and a variety of other workers deemed ‘essential’ in the current crisis. The idea that all of the immigrants in these roles should suddenly be replaced by ‘American Citizens’ who did not do those jobs before is both antithetical to the American ideal and counterproductive to jump-starting our economy and healing our sense of community.”
The association further requested the president revoke the ban. “We urge the federal government to reject President Trump’s proposed ban on immigration and all other efforts to blame immigrants for this global pandemic. America only becomes stronger when it attracts the best that other countries have to offer, and it can only remain great if it lives up to the ideal of welcoming those seeking opportunity and refuge.”
Trump’s new proclamation will prevent foreigners from moving to the US on a new Green Card for 60 days. However, clarifying the doubts of employers and immigrants, the president said that order is limited to those seeking permanent residency, and won’t affect individuals coming to the U.S. on temporary visas, such as the H-1B specialty occupation visa.
The order aims to protect U.S. workers who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the restrictions could later be amended or extended if necessary, Trump said.
“This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as the economy reopens,” he said at a Wednesday press briefing.
Immigrants seeking Green Cards to work in the U.S. as health care professionals combatting COVID-19, along with their families, are exempted from the restrictions. Foreigners seeking to invest in a US enterprise that creates jobs in the country were also excluded from the ban. Though it was made clear that to qualify for a Green Card under the EB-5 visa program, investors must sink at least $900,000 into an area with a high unemployment rate, or $1.8 million.