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Trump Orders New Restrictions on Immigration to Combat Coronavirus Spread

Trump Orders New Restrictions on Immigration to Combat Coronavirus Spread

The Trump Administration has always kept limiting immigration services as one of the centerpieces of the presidency, often claiming that less immigration would protect American jobs and health. With the continued spread of the coronavirus, the message has been repeated and reinforced after President Trump signed a new executive order on April 22nd, 2020 that aims to greatly limit who can lawfully enter the country during the pandemic. The order took effect just one day later on April 23rd, banning nonessential employment-based and family-based immigration.

In specific, the executive order blocks new immigration efforts by anyone who:

  • Was outside the country at the end of April 22nd, 2020;
  • Does not have a permitted immigrant visa at the time; and
  • Does not have any other form of applicable travel documents that would still allow immigration with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) review.

The executive order is slated to stay in effect for 60 days, but it allows the President to review it within the last 50 days of its duration. Upon review, it can be modified, terminated early, or extended. When speaking with the press, President Trump noted that he had the authority to extend the executive order indefinitely, not just for another 60 days, so it might be predictable to assume the new limits will be in place for as long as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The DHS also warned that anyone found to be in violation of the executive order – as in anyone trying to unlawfully enter the country for nonessential purposes – would be subjected to expedited removal processes. Priority removal can result in someone being forcefully deported in only a matter of weeks or less. Typically, the removal process can take months or longer to bring to a conclusion.

Who is Allowed to Enter the Country?

While the executive order’s purpose appears to be a large umbrella covering the majority of immigrants – employment- and family-based immigration are the top two reasons why people enter the country and seek a green card – there are safe niches carved out in the limitations. Essentially, people with preexisting immigration approval should be largely unfazed by the executive order.

According to the White House and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the order will not impact:

  • Any lawful permanent residents (LRPs)
  • Spouses and young children of U.S. citizens, with an age cap of 21
  • Immigrant investors using the EB-5 program
  • Active members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their immediate families
  • People who are deemed of special interest by the DHS

A special exemption has also been created for medical personnel and researchers who are trying to enter the country to help slow or cure the coronavirus. The DHS reserves the power to review individual cases of such medical professionals to determine if entry should be granted or not. However, it is expected that most doctors, nurses, and medical researchers seeking to gain legal entrance to the U.S. for employment will be permitted.

There is also a special exception for asylum seekers and refugees. Regardless of their country of origin or past immigration status, people seeking entrance into America to escape persecution, cruelty, oppression, and violence will not be turned away because of the new executive order. Although, similar promises have been made by the USCIS and DHS under the Trump Administration with varying degrees of success and authenticity, raising some concerns now among parties critical of the presidency.

Do you need help understanding your rights as an immigrant or the family member of one, especially now that the coronavirus prompted further immigration restrictions through a sudden executive order? Meaders Law PLLC in Dallas can help you. We offer legal services to immigrants from all walks of life and all corners of the globe. Call (972) 440-1418 for more information or to schedule a confidential consultation with our team.

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