US president Donald Trump. (Getty Images)
  • President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his executive order to suspend immigration into the US would be in place for 60 days.
  • Trump initially tweeted about the measure on Monday night and said his decision was spurred by an "attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens."
  • Trump clarified the measure at a coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday and said the order would only apply to individuals seeking permanent residency or green card seekers.
  • He added that additional immigration measures may be considered in the future as the country seeks to reopen its industries shut down to stop the novel coronavirus spread.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that his executive order to suspend immigration into the US would be in place for 60 days. He initially tweeted on Monday night that he would be signing an executive order to temporarily suspend immigration into the US without providing further details.

In his tweet, Trump said his decision was spurred by an "attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens."

During a coronavirus press briefing on Tuesday, Trump clarified the measure.

"We have a solemn duty to ensure these unemployed Americans regain their jobs and their livelihoods, therefore in order to protect American workers, I will be issuing a temporary suspension of immigration into the United States."

"By pausing immigration we'll help put Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens," he continued. "I would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced by new immigrant labour flown in from abroad."

Trump said that the order would last 60 days and then would be reevaluated by him and "a group of people based on economic conditions at the time" on whether the measure should be extended.

He said the order would only apply to individuals seeking permanent residency or green card seekers. He added that additional immigration measures may be considered in the future as the country seeks to reopen its industries shut down in order to stop the novel coronavirus spread.

Trump also backed off proposals to block guest worker programs, which allows foreign nationals to temporarily work in certain industries like farming and reside in the US during employment. According to The New York Times, the decision to leave the programs in place came after business groups "exploded in anger."

The suspension of some types of immigration into the US is a major expansion to several travel bans put in place to curb the novel coronavirus' spread.

As of Tuesday evening, the US recorded over 820,000 coronavirus cases and more than 44,000 deaths.

Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia responded to Trump's tweet on Monday, calling it "xenophobic scapegoating."

"From the beginning, Trump has flailed about seeking someone to blame for his own failure," Bayer wrote on Twitter. "Immigration has nearly stopped and the US has far more cases than any other country."

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, a Democrat who ran for the party's 2020 presidential nomination, said Trump's order was an attempt to blame the US's failure to stem the coronavirus' spread on immigrants.

"We don't need to protect America from immigrants. We need to protect her from you," he said in a response to Trump's tweet.

"He wants us to think our pandemic is the fault of immigrants & other nations," Swalwell wrote in a follow-up tweet.

"But we're in this crisis- 42k-plus deaths & a faltering economy as other nations did better- due to his failures of foresight & leadership, & his ongoing failure to take responsibility & accept reality."

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, also a former 2020 presidential candidate, responded to Trump's tweet as well, saying the move was "shamelessly politicising this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda."

"Trump failed to take this crisis seriously from day 1," she wrote. "His abandonment of his role as president has cost lives. And now, he's shamelessly politicising this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda. Enough, Mr. President. The American people are fed up."

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