President Trump claimed Wednesday that he had signed an executive order “temporarily suspending immigration into the United States.” But experts say the order will merely delay the issuance of green cards for a minority of applicants, the AP reports. Trump said his move was necessary to help Americans find work in an economy ravaged by the coronavirus. "This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” he said. But the order includes a long list of exemptions, including for anyone who is currently in the country, those seeking entry to work as physicians and nurses, wealthy foreign investors, and the spouses and minor children of American citizens. The 60-day pause also leaves untouched the hundreds of thousands of temporary work and student visas the US issues each year.
That left partisans on both sides of the immigration battle accusing Trump of being driven more by politics than policy as he tries to rally voters in an election year. Yet experts say that, if the order is made permanent, it would also satisfy Trump's long-stalled push to end what he calls “chain migration." Since the vast majority of employment-based green card applicants already live in the US, the proclamation Trump signed Wednesday will most affect the parents, adult children, and siblings of citizens and permanent residents hoping to one day join them in the country. Trump has derided that practice and pushed Congress for years to adopt legislation that would favor what he calls “merit-based” immigration instead. (Much more here.)