Immigration activists have called on President-elect Joe Biden to overturn Trump’s policies as soon as he takes office.
President Donald Trump has extended coronavirus-related restrictions on legal immigration and visa procedures.
The pandemic-control measures, notes CNN, were set to expire at the end of 2020. But with mere hours remaining in his tenure, President Trump opted to extend the restrictions through March 31st, by which time his successor—President-elect Joe Biden—will have taken office.
The commander-in-chief’s last-minute move against migrants should hardly come as a surprise. Since his inauguration in January, President Trump has repeatedly enacted—or attempted to enact—policies and executive orders severely curtailing all forms of immigration, whether legal or not.
According to CNN, Trump had, this past April, signed a proclamation precluding prospective migrants from applying for and receiving first-time visas.
As part of that measure, Trump imposed a “ban” on green cards, which primarily targeted the family members of people already living in the United States. He later curtailed the issuance of H-1B visas for skilled workers, H-2B visas for nonagricultural seasonal workers, and L-1 visas for managers and other critical employees of multinational corporations.
While that order and its many stipulations were set to lapse in June, President Trump extended them over the summer and broadened its scope to include some categories of guest worker visas.
On Thursday, Trump issued another extension order, in which he attempted to explain its underlying logic.
“The effects of COVID-19 on the United States labor market and on the health of American communities is a matter of ongoing national concern,” the order stated. “The current number of new cases worldwide reported by the World Health Organization, for example, is higher than the comparable number present during June, and while therapeutics and vaccines are recently available for an increasing number of Americans, their effect on the labor market and community health has not yet been fully realized.”
The proclamation is ironic, insofar as it contradicts President Trump’s longstanding stance on coronavirus—as commander-in-chief, Trump has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the pandemic. He has also insisted that the United States is doing a far better job controlling coronavirus than most other countries, despite America having more confirmed cases than anywhere else in the world.
Alongside the extension on visa bans and limits, the Trump administration won another immigration-related victory after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the White House’s decision to require incoming immigrants to purchase private health insurance policies within 30 days of their arrival to the United States.
Esther Sung, a Justice Action Center attorney who had filed a lawsuit to block the latter rule, said the incoming Biden administration must act fast to undo the vast amounts of damage wrought by President Trump and his anti-immigration cabinet.
The health insurance ruling, Sung said, “makes clear that the Biden administration must move swiftly to rescind all of President Trump’s xenophobic presidential proclamations, including this health care ban.”