In late April, President Donald Trump signed an executive order “temporarily suspending immigration into the United States.” Trump said it was a response to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic and would ensure unemployed Americans be “first in line for jobs as our economy reopens”.

The president first announced the decision in a late-night tweet that he would “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”

The 60-day ban suspends immigration for people seeking green cards, though there are exceptions to the order. 

Sam Reese is an accredited representative for Immigration Counselling Service, a nonprofit immigration law firm in Oregon. Reese spoke with OPB about the details of the executive order and how it could impact immigrants living in Oregon.

 Para información en español sobre quien va a ser afectado por este orden, y como obtener ayuda o recursos, escucha este audio o visita este sitio de web: https://www.ics-law.org/

Which groups will be affected by this executive order?

“People seeking green cards, and it’s mainly people who would be coming from abroad — so, processing to come into the United States as a legal permanent resident. Those are going to be mainly family members of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents who are trying to reunify with their family. It will also stop some people who are coming through immigrant visas, people who have employers who are petitioning for them, and a small number of people who are coming in on humanitarian visas. …

“If we’re talking about a delay of 60 days, that may delay a lot of people’s applications, but there are certain people who could be permanently ineligible for a visa if the delays go beyond their time period. I do have at least one client right now who, if he turns 21 — he’s 20 now — and if he turns 21 before they give him his visa, he’ll be permanently ineligible.”

Which groups are exempt?

“When the announcement was made, it seemed like it was a blanket announcement for all green cards. But a few days later, when the proclamation was made public, there had been several people who had been exempt, including spouses and children of citizens, and people with essential employment-based petitions — that includes people in health, as well as food production and several other categories.”

How could the Pacific Northwest be impacted?

“The Pacific Northwest has a large portion of people who are working in agriculture, and those people are potentially going to be missing their opportunity to be here for this season. … I know that employers around the Pacific Northwest have expressed concern about the lack of people available to produce agricultural products, in all aspects of growing and distributing them.”

Haven’t many immigration services been halted due to the pandemic anyway?

“This announcement comes over a month after all of the in-person services through USCIS, as well as the consulates around the world, have halted operation. So, the big changes that we’re going to see from this might not seem all that large in the short term — those processes have already stopped. But what’s concerning is the process of scapegoating people, as well as the fact that the administration has chosen certain categories as targets for people who will not be eligible to process.”

Could the executive order continue past the original 60-day ban?

“That’s another concern about making the proclamation tied to unemployment. As the 60 days wraps up, even if the rest of the economy seems to be going well, the administration could very well continue this on, saying the unemployment rate is too high, or using whatever reasoning that they think to continue that. … It was left open deliberately.”

Listen to the full conversation by clicking play on the audio player at the top of this story.