By: Rania Shoukier, Esq. and Louis G. Adolfsen, Esq.
The other night the President tweeted: "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!"
In recent weeks, the Administration has used health concerns to justify aggressively restricting immigration. Even before the tweet, it had expanded travel restrictions, slowed visa processing and moved to bar asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants from entering the country, especially at our Southern Border. The Administration is now using the global pandemic to further hardline immigration policies.
First of all , it should be noted that this executive order is only "temporary". It cannot last forever because immigration is a fact of life in every country and every country must process people seeking immigration no matter how they try to restrict it. Indeed, the President has already reduced the ban to 60 days for Green Card applications and excluded foreign workers who are needed by US Companies (Something a staff experienced in business would have thought of before the announcement). In any event, someday there will be another administration and it will relax some of the things that this administration is doing. And, there may be yet another administration that will do something completely different. But the process other valuating applications for immigration will continue.
Some have suggested that there is hypocrisy in these policies and observed that despite working to restrict immigration since taking office and chastising US companies for hiring overseas workers, Trump's businesses have hired hundreds of temporary foreign workers in recent years. Roughly 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last few weeks alone as the virus prompts businesses to close and states to essentially shut down. The downturn has been a blow to the President, whose reelection campaign centered on the strength of the economy.
But let's get away from the politics and deal with the real facts and the people on the ground who have to deal with Immigration. United States Immigration and Customs Services (USCIS), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) were created long before this administration took office. They perform the same functions under every Administrations with no regard for politics.
As harsh as this Executive Order may be for immigrants from abroad seeking immigration status, it will have very little effect on those non-citizens who are currently in the U.S. Those in the U.S, will continue to seek immigration status on the grounds of Marriage, Asylum on grounds of political persecution, and archaic harm to females (FMG), etc., Battled Spouses under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), "601 waivers" of the 10 year ban based on "extreme hardship," 42b cancellations of removal also for extreme hardship and students visas, including those who are seeking to extension their stay till it's safe to return to their home country.
USCIS will continue to process these kinds of applications. The people who do this work and lawyers who deal with them know that these government workers are unsung heroes who do their job professionally with no hint of politics. Any lawyer reviewing the response of USCIS to an application for immigration can see that politics has nothing to do with it in that a professional evaluation is always made. Our immigration system first and foremost must protect our country. To that end, DHS, CBP and ICE perform their roles professionally without regard to politics. What makes America great has always been there and will continue to be there no matter what administration controls the White House or what party rules the Congress. The law will still be followed and those who or charged with enforcing it will do it fairly and without regard to politics.