The day after a tweet announcing his decision to “Temporarily suspend immigration to the United States”, Donald Trump clarified his intentions on Tuesday April 21: he should quickly sign a decree to stop for 60 days the issuance of green cards that offer permanent resident status.
New screwdriver, in the name of the job
This new immigration restriction put in place by Donald Trump, who has made the fight against immigration, legal or not, his hobby horse since entering politics, is justified, in the eyes of the White House, by the brutal deterioration of the labor market in the United States.
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“This immigration break will put unemployed Americans on the front line for jobs as America reopens. It would be unfair for the Americans to be replaced by a workforce from abroad ”said the President when announcing his decision.
The details of the presidential decree, which could be signed as early as Wednesday, April 22, are not yet known. However, a priori, work visas or temporary stays will not be affected; only the “Green cards”, which allow foreigners to work in the United States and have temporary resident status, would no longer be issued for at least 60 days.
Sharp rise in unemployment since the start of the pandemic
As always in such a situation in the United States, a country with a highly reactive economy, both in boom times and in times of crisis, the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic were very brutal on the job market.
While the country had known for several months a situation of full employment without equivalent in its recent history, with an unemployment rate of 3.5% in February, the pandemic caused a dizzying number of layoffs. More than 22 million new people are now looking for work, and the unemployment rate could quickly reach 20%, according to forecasts.
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This situation is catastrophic in a country where the benefits are low and last only a short time, even if the massive recovery plan adopted last month includes significant aid for American households. But the economic downturn also forced Donald Trump to revise his strategy in preparation for the November election: he had launched his campaign for his re-election on the theme of jobs and the good health of the economy.
Economic… or political decision?
In the eyes of many commentators, this new decision by Donald Trump would respond above all to political considerations: he knows that his base is always extremely reactive to the theme of immigration and the border. We also know that he follows very closely the reactions to his statements on Twitter. However, nearly 400,000 people have already reacted positively on the social network …
His political opponents accuse him of using the pandemic to promote a hard line on immigration. Texas MP Joaquin Castro Denounced Maneuver “Aimed at diverting attention from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus”. “It is also a decision worthy of an authoritarian regime to take advantage of a crisis to push its anti-immigration program”, he added.
His colleague Jerry Nadler deplored that the president chose to make migrants the scapegoats of the current crisis: “The reality is that many migrants are on the front line and protect us: doctors, nurses, caregivers, farm workers, restaurant workers”.
It is very likely that the upcoming decree will be challenged in court. Which is not necessarily to displease Donald Trump, six months before the presidential election.