President Donald Trump claimed on Twitter late Monday that he would “temporarily suspend” immigration into the United States, an unprecedented declaration that came with no details on how the country would enforce such a ban.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Trump tweeted.
Trump has implemented policies to restrict immigration, including blocks on travel from several Muslim-majority countries, from the early days of his presidency. In March, the administration also blocked travel from China, parts of Europe, and the United Kingdom due to the coronavirus.
It was not immediately clear how the latest planned ban he tweeted about would be implemented.
On Monday, the administration extended a March 20 order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that bars the entry of those who cross into the country without authorization. The order effectively bars asylum at the southern border and has led to US officials quickly deporting immigrant children apprehended alone.
Administration officials say they are following public health orders designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the US, but opponents say they are using the health orders to skirt federal laws that govern the processing of unaccompanied minors.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic the State Department has already stopped processing visas. The executive order could be focused on foreign worker visas, which has been an issue Trump has faced criticism in the past and again during the pandemic for easing requirements for seasonal foreign workers.
Despite working to restrict immigration since taking office and chastising US companies for hiring overseas workers, Trump's businesses have hired hundreds of temporary foreign workers in recent years.
Last month, the State Department eased requirements for most seasonal foreign workers, waiving previously required in-person interviews for temporary worker visas. DHS also announced changes last week that would make it easier for US farmers to hire temporary workers, saying it was necessary to protect the nation's food supply.
Adolfo Flores contributed reporting.