Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., is set to introduce legislation that would codify and extend President Trump’s executive order to restrict some immigrants from entering the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Daines’ bill would temporarily extend the immigration ban until 60 days after the coronavirus national emergency order is lifted, with the goal of giving U.S. workers an advantage to fill necessary jobs before immigration restarts. Trump’s executive order is currently slated to expire in mid-June — although Trump has previously hinted the ban could potentially go for a “lot longer” than that.
Other lawmakers are expected to support Daines’ legislation and that the White House has participated in discussions on the matter. Daines’ office characterized the legislation, which is still being finalized, as mirroring and building upon the president’s April 22 measure that suspends green cards for immigrants who are currently outside the U.S. and do not already have a valid immigrant visa.
Trump said last month that his order helps protect Americans from COVID-19 infections and reduces the competition for certain jobs.
Daines said in a statement that he is “proud to back President Trump and his efforts to put the American worker first as we begin too safely reopen the economy and support those who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
His office said the legislation will provide American workers with an “advantage to fill necessary jobs” before immigration restarts.
The U.S. economy has been decimated by the coronavirus with record levels of unemployment. Government officials are working to find a balance between reopening the economy and protecting the population from a dramatic increase of infections.
Those who were affected include those awarded permanent residence under the diversity lottery, work green cards and chain migration.
People who are seeking green cards who are already in the country will not be subject to the pause. There are other exemptions in the Trump order and Daines’ bill for the agriculture and healthcare workforce.
Daines’ bill also will include exceptions for those seeking refugee status from torture and other humanitarian crises.
“I will always fight to protect and put Montanan and American workers and jobs first,” Daines said.
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