President Donald Trump on Monday evening declared that he was planning on signing an executive order temporarily halting immigration to the United States as part of the federal government’s response to prevent the spread of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus. While the exact parameters of the order have not yet been released, Trump’s critics were quick to note the dissonance of the president’s approach to stymie the pandemic, as just days earlier he called on states to begin lifting social distancing measures.
The criticism went something like this: a consequence of reopening America again will be a new spike in the spread of disease domestically, so what does banning immigration actually accomplish?
“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!” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning.
Despite a lack of widespread testing, the U.S. currently has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any nation in the world, with just over 800,000.
Mexico, where most immigrants entering the U.S. come from daily, currently has just over 8,000 confirmed cases of the virus.
While halting immigration into the U.S. may be prudent under the circumstances, it’s also counter-intuitive to the president’s messaging just days ago when he championed demonstrators in Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia for protesting the states’ social distancing orders.
The incongruity of the president’s positions was not lost on his critics, many of whom derided the immigration stoppage as transparently political in nature.
“Nothing says ‘we’re ready to reopen’ like a categorical ‘closed’ sign at the border,” wrote University of Texas law professor Stephen Vladeck.
“How can he justify stopping all immigration globally because of the pandemic at the same time he’s suggesting it’s safe for states to start going back to work by May 1st or sooner?” MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell wondered.
CNN analyst, attorney and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa seemingly alluded to the president’s reality television past.
Former DOJ attorney Eric Columbus similarly noted that the president was playing the hits.
The president will more than likely use such criticism of the immigration suspension to say that his critics were wrong about a decisive move he made to help stave off the virus. During Coronavirus Task Force briefings, Trump often counters criticism of his administration’s response to the pandemic by mentioning the restrictions of travel from China and Europe.
[Image via Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images]
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