WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he has signed an order partially halting immigration to the US, claiming that the drastic move would protect jobs during the coronavirus crisis.
“In order to protect our great American workers, I’ve just signed an executive order temporarily suspending immigration into the United States. This will ensure that unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens,” he told a press conference.
The suspension hits individuals seeking permanent residence, or green cards. Seasonal employees are also permitted to join, such as immigrants essential to US farm labor.
The White House added that Mr Trump will ask his team to “review guest worker programmes” to decide whether further action is required.
Guest workers apply to people entering the US on H-2A agricultural visas and H-2B non-agricultural visas, and H-1B visas used to employ highly skilled labour, which is essential for technology companies.
Mr Trump has promised to protect U.S. farmers and ensure that they have enough migrant labour, but has made little promises to companies.
“Right now we have a very powerful immigration ban, but it could be modified, meaning made tougher, or made less tough,” Mr Trump said at his press conference on Wednesday. “We don’t want to hurt our businesses and we don’t want to hurt our farmers, very important.”