Right, because COVID-19 is coming from other countries. Its not like there are cases all over the US already while this orange cock threatens civil war to lift the lockdowns.Donald Trump has been accused of “xenophobic scapegoating” after he announced he will order a temporary ban on immigration into the US to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
There were no other details on the timing or scope of the president’s proposed executive order and no official policy statement from the White House.
Instead there was a lone tweet issued by Trump at 10.06pm on Monday. Without warning, he wrote: “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy” – a phrase he commonly applies to Covid-19 – “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!”
The post generated instant uncertainty. Similar moves by Trump in the past have triggered mayhem at airports in America and beyond as well as legal challenges. Such an order would be a far-reaching use of executive power from a president who last week claimed he had “total” authority over states’ efforts to reopen their economies.
It came as US oil prices started to recover after turning negative for the first time on record when oil producers ran out of space to store the oversupply of crude, sparked by the virus crisis. On Tuesday, the US benchmark – West Texas Intermediate – for May sat at $1.10 a barrel after closing at -$37.63 in New York on Monday. Trump said in his White House breifing on Monday night the oil price crash was only “short term”.
Trump’s tweet about suspending immigration provoked fierce criticism from Democrats, who suggested he was seeking to distract from his own mishandling of the pandemic.
Congressman Don Beyer of Virginia tweeted: “From the beginning Trump has flailed about seeking someone to blame for his own failure. Obama. Governors. China. Speaker Pelosi. People of Asian descent.
“Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country. This is just xenophobic scapegoating.”
Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York added: “President Trump now seeks to distract us from his fumbled Covid-19 response by trying to put the blame on immigrants. The truth is many immigrants are on our front lines, protecting us as doctors, nurses, health aids, farmworkers, and restaurant workers.”
Moe Vela, a former senior adviser on Latino affairs to then vice president Joe Biden, said: “You don’t have to ban all immigration into the country right now. Instead of using a legitimate mitigation solution, like testing or contact tracing people when they come in, he resorted to his go-to strategy which is anti-immigration and racism. This is no more than a total farce, just another excuse for him play to his base.”
Vela, a board director at TransparentBusiness, added: “He wants to distract again. He castigates and casts blame as he tries to take it away from himself. He shirked his most fundamental responsibility as the president of this nation and that’s to keep us safe. He doesn’t know how to cover up for the fact he was playing golf and holding rallies in February when people were getting sick and dying.”
Trump’s tweet did not make clear which immigration programmes might be affected. Nearly all visa processing by the state department, including immigrant visas, has been on hold during the pandemic. Asylum claims have also been suspended in effect, with thousands of people being swiftly returned to Mexico without due process, drawing a rebuke from Human Rights Watch.
With opinion polls showing declining faith in his response to the crisis, Trump has repeatedly pointed to travel restrictions he imposed on China and Europe as evidence he took preemptive action. He is yet to extend those restrictions to other countries now experiencing outbreaks.
The president has also been condemned for using the coronavirus pandemic to push his political agenda, assailing voting rights, undermining federal watchdogs, shredding regulations and signing a bill that handed billions of dollars to corporations while resisting congressional oversight.
The threatened executive order is consistent with his anti-immigrant rhetoric – during the 2016 presidential election he even floated a “Muslim ban” – and aggressive policy enforcement that saw parents separated from children when they entered the country illegally.
At Monday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, the US Army Corps of Engineers gave a progress report on construction of the US-Mexico border wall. A gratified Trump said: “A hundred and sixty-four miles and we’ll have it done some time pretty early next year. Very exciting. And you might just say one thing: the quality of that wall, in terms of its power for stopping people that shouldn’t be coming into our country.”
Trump’s late-night tweet also referenced a need to keep jobs for American citizens, another longtime campaign pledge. More than 22 million people have filed for unemployment aid since he declared a national emergency on 13 March.
In other global developments:
More than 170,300 people have died from coronavirus so far, according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker. The number of known infections worldwide is approaching 2.5 million. The US accounts for just under a quarter of deaths, at 42,308, and has the most cases, with nearly 780,000.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam extended social distancing measures for another 14 days, saying “now is not the time to let down our guard”. The measures, which have closed numerous types of businesses and venues, dictate no more than four people are allowed to gather together. Hong Kong reported its first day since early March with no new cases.
Singapore has reported a record 1,426 new cases, pushing its total number of confirmed infections to just over 8,000. The tiny city-state now has the highest number of cases in south-east Asia after earlier appearing to have the outbreak under control. Low-wage migrant workers, a vital part of Singapore’s workforce, now account for at least 60% of its infections.
The US state of Maryland said it obtained 500,000 coronavirus tests from South Korea, raising questions about governors circumventing the federal government to obtain medical equipment. Larry Hogan, the state’s Republican governor, said insufficient testing remained “the most serious obstacle to safely reopening our states”
Anyone who thinks this is temporary is delusional. This measure, if permitted by the Senate and courts, will never be lifted during his Presidency. It will become the new normal, and it will be much harder to reopen immigration post-Trump than to prevent it from being closed.