Presidential Proclamation “Suspending” Immigration

The White House has released Trump’s previously-announced proclamation this evening purporting to suspend entry of immigrants.

The order itself is limited in application and contains many exceptions. There may actually not be all that many people impacted by this order, especially if isn’t extended beyond its initial 60-day validity period.

First, application of this order applies only to those outside the US (so, anyone going through a green card process in the US and seeking permanent residence through Adjustment of Status isn’t impacted), and to those outside the US who don’t already have a valid immigrant visa stamp dated today or before, or other travel document such as a parole document or travel foil (so, those who have already been processed for and been issued an immigrant visa abroad as of April 22, 2020 are not impacted, nor are those going through the Adjustment of Status process and traveling under advance parole).

Those still outside the US and not yet issued an immigrant visa do come under the order – but may be able to take advantage of one of several exceptions. Among those excepted from the order are spouses and children of citizens (including prospective adoptees), members of the military, health care workers entering to perform COVID-19-related research, special immigrant juveniles, those assisting law enforcement, and others (including spouses and children of those in some of these categories such as health care researchers and military members and those who may fall under a general “national interests of the US” category).

The order is set to expire in 60 days, though it may be extended. Absent extension, the existing closure of US consulate for immigrant visa processing may remain a bigger issue for many prospective immigrants than this proclamation.

It remains far from clear how the US Department of State will handle cases already in progress – whether it will continue to accept and process submissions as it has been doing, though holding off on scheduling final interviews (again, as it has been doing).

As we have discussed previously here on many occasions, restrictions on immigration simply don’t preserve US jobs – the jobs will often leave the country entirely to find labor that’s either less expensive or more skilled than available here if employers are deprived of the ability to hire foreign workers. Further, as immigrants start business far more often than citizens, they re actually the source of many jobs (in fairness, those entering from abroad as EB-5 immigrant investors to create or invest in business that would are specifically excepted from this order – though immigrant entrepreneurs may seek green card under a variety of categories).

We therefore continue to question the effectiveness of this new action to accomplish it’s stated purpose, even as we are relieved that the misguided nature of the proclamation doesn’t cause quite as much harm as it might have.