US President Donald Trump said he will sign an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States, saying he needs to protect American jobs as coronavirus ravages the economy.
The move, announced in a late-night post on Twitter, effectively achieves a long-term Trump policy goal to curb immigration, making use of the health and economic crisis that has swept the country as a result of the pandemic to do so.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,”, Trump said on Monday.
He offered no details as to what immigration programmes might be affected by the order. The White House did not immediately elaborate on Trump’s announcement.
The development is the latest in a string of moves cracking down on immigration as the coronavirus spreads in the United States.
The US has by far the world’s largest number of confirmed coronavirus cases, with more than 42,000 deaths and 774,000 infections on Monday.
In late March, Trump said the US would swiftly return any migrants who attempted to cross into the country from Mexico and Canada. He argued migrants crossing the border threatened to worsen the US’s coronavirus outbreak.
Monday’s decision drew swift condemnation from some Democrats, who accused the president of creating a distraction from what they view as a slow and faulty response to the coronavirus.