United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the country during the coronavirus pandemic, AFP reported.
The order, seen as an election-year move, is set to last for 60 days and then will be reviewed and possibly extended. However, it is also likely to face legal challenges.
“In order to protect our great American workers, I’ve just signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States,” Trump said at a daily press conference about the coronavirus at the White House. “This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens.”
The US president also said the move will “preserve healthcare resources for American patients” afflicted by the coronavirus.
The suspension, the executive order said, does not apply to those foreign nationals already in the country on a green card. Doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals will be exempted, as will other prospective immigrants coming to the country to perform “essential” work to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The order also limits the ability of current green card holders to sponsor their extended families to seek permanent residence through their familial connections. But it makes an exception for spouses of US citizens and unmarried children under the age of 21.
The United States has the most confirmed cases and deaths in the world with at least 8,40,476 people infected and more than 45,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker.
Trump had won the US presidential elections in 2016 after promising to crack down on immigration and has made the matter a central theme to his presidency. But many of his major moves trying to curb immigration have been challenged in court.