The Trump Administration has consistently held its focus on limiting immigration laws to restrict how many people can enter the United States from other countries, but lawfully and unlawfully. Faced with the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump Administration has once again made a move to tighten the borders with a new executive order, which was signed on April 22nd, 2020 and went into effect the next day.
The executive order blocks anyone from entering the United State without a preexisting and valid immigration visa or any other verified travel document. Specifically, the focus of the executive order is walling off new entries for people seeking a green card through employment-based immigration methods or a family visa. The Trump Administration announced that the new limitations were expected to protect the U.S. labor market while the economy recovers and to stop further spread of COVID-19 by immigrants who might be asymptomatic carriers.
The effectiveness of the limitations can only be speculated at this time. Yet critics of the Trump Administration’s past immigration law practices believe the executive order is only using the coronavirus as a scapegoat to further the presidency’s counter-immigration policies without the typical procedures behind new legislation. While the new immigration suspensions are supposed to end 60 days after the order went into effect, the President holds the power to review the order and extend it indefinitely or broaden its restrictions.
Immigration Block Leaves Room for Some Immigrants
While the executive order might seem devastating at a cursory glance, there are some exceptions outlined in it that would allow immigrants of some groups to continue seeking entrance into the country.
Immigrants who are exempt from the new executive order are:
- Lawful permanent residents
- Spouses of U.S. citizens
- Children and prospective adoptive children of U.S. citizens, except those 21 or older
- Members of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program
- People deemed to be a benefit to the nation through a subjective review by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
- Medical professionals entering the country to work at a medical clinic that assists coronavirus patients
- Researchers entering the country to study the virus in a capacity that aims to reduce its spread
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also made a special note to mention that refugees and asylum seekers are not to be limited by the executive order. As long as someone is trying to flee their home country due to oppression, cruelty, or other forms of imminent danger, they should be able to still file for asylum status as usual.
Importance of Understanding the New Executive Order
If you are an immigrant or prospective immigrant, then it is crucial that you understand the restrictions put in place by the new executive order. The USCIS announced there would be “prioritized removal” methods used against anyone who violated the order’s policies. Whereas deportation procedures can sometimes take months or longer, prioritize removal is an expedited process that can conclude in a matter of weeks.
(Get more information about the new Trump Administration immigration limitations placed in response to the coronavirus by clicking here and viewing a full article from CNN Politics.)
Legal Services for Immigrants in Connecticut
The Law Offices of James A. Welcome is an immigration law firm serving people of all walks of life throughout Connecticut. If you have questions about your rights as an immigrant due to the new changes put in place by the Trump Administration, you can call our law firm at (203) 806-7922 to connect with a member of our team. You can also use an online contact form if you prefer and someone from our firm will get back to you at our first opportunity.