President Trump announced his intentions of “prohibiting immigration into our Country” and just last week signed an executive order halting the issuance of green cards, a legal avenue to citizenship. This order covers a very narrow area of immigration law, implies migrants are worsening the effects of the pandemic, and does nothing to make our country more secure.
The executive order largely targets individuals who have been seeking entry to the U.S. legally for years or, for some, decades. The Associated Press observed, “the proclamation Trump signed Wednesday will most affect the parents, adult children and siblings of citizens and permanent residents hoping to one day join them in the country.” According to the wording in the executive order, the administration will be reviewing the current policies, and it seems likely that further restrictions could be put into place following the pause.
As it stands, this executive order made only minimal changes to how immigration processes were handled before it was signed. Because of the pandemic, NBC news reports, Citizen and Immigration Services field offices were already closed, visa processing and refugee admissions had been suspended, nonessential travel was restricted, and migrants at the border were being turned away without exception. Restricting travel during a global pandemic is reasonable. We need to attempt to reduce social contact in immigration-related employment just like any other industry. But because immigration had already been limited on most fronts up to this point, a 60-day halt specifically on green card admissions seems unnecessary.
This was not an attempt to make our nation safer. Immigrants are not to blame for this crisis. President Trump continually refers to immigration restrictions in connection with keeping the American people safe, subtly implying that immigrants are a threat to our country, in an attempt to rally the nation behind him — and against immigrants. He has made this connection since the beginning days of his 2016 campaign. This was verifiably false during his campaign and is grossly exaggerated, if not outright false, now. We are still unsure of how COVID-19 entered our country, but thus far the pandemic cannot be traced to refugees, asylum-seekers, U.S. visa residents, or green card holders. Immigrants are putting their lives on the line every day in industries such as healthcare and food services, bettering life for Americans as a whole.
Our lives have all been drastically changed over the last few months. Our country indeed needs unity, but that unity need not come at the cost of other people. We can look out for others while also protecting ourselves. The two are not mutually exclusive, as the president would have us believe. We know that when we work together we have enough for ourselves and to share. Let’s stop blaming and ostracizing immigrants and find ways to protect the vulnerable in our country while also doing what we can to protect the vulnerable outside of our country.