April 22, 2020 at 7:58 am PDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Trump executive order to suspend US immigration for 60 days
Thousands of migrants currently live in a camp in the Mexican border city of Matamoros, which is across the Rio Grande from Brownsville, Texas. The Los Angeles Blade visited this camp in January. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Advocacy groups on Tuesday sharply criticized President Trump over his executive order that will effectively stop immigration into the U.S.

“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,” proclaimed Trump late Monday in a tweet that referred to the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump during the White House Coronavirus Task Force’s daily press briefing on Tuesday announced the “temporary suspension of immigration into the U.S.” will remain in place for 60 days.

The New York Times reported the order only applies to those who are seeking green cards that would allow them to permanently live and work in the U.S. It is not immediately clear if the order would apply to refugees or asylum recipients.

Trump said he will likely sign the order on Wednesday.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf on Monday announced the U.S.-Canada border and the U.S.-Mexico border will remain closed to non-essential travel for an additional 30 days. Wolf at the March 20 press conference that announced the closures said undocumented immigrants will not be allowed into the U.S.

“As President Trump stated last week, border control, travel restrictions, and other limitations remain critical to slowing the spread of coronavirus and allowing the phased opening of the country,” said Wolf on Monday in a tweet.

The suspension of international flights and border closures have essentially stopped immigration into the U.S. Trump’s announcement also coincides with continued criticism of the White House’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The latest statistics from Johns Hopkins University and Medicine indicate there are 820,104 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. and 44,228 deaths. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, among many others, have said the White House needs to do more to address the shortage of testing in the country before stay-at-home orders can be relaxed and businesses are able to reopen.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Tuesday said there are 253 confirmed coronavirus cases among detainees who are in their detention centers. Immigration Equality is among the groups that continue to demand ICE release people with HIV and detainees who are at increased risk for th virus.  

A man uses a makeshift ladder to scale a fence that marks the Mexico-U.S. border in Tijuana, Mexico, on Feb. 26, 2020. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Immigration ‘largely frozen across the world’

OutRight Action International Executive Director Jessica Stern in a statement to the Los Angeles Blade on Tuesday noted “immigration processes are largely frozen across the world; many borders remain closed and international travel is negligible.”

“As such, President Trump’s tweet announcing an upcoming executive order temporarily banning all immigration is redundant and only serves to blame foreigners for effects of the pandemic, instead of seeking solutions to the global problem,” said Stern.

The Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration is a Minnesota-based organization that works with LGBTQ migrants and refugees around the world. Jardín de las Mariposas, an LGBTQ migrant shelter in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, is among those with which ORAM has partnered.

ORAM Executive Director Steve Roth on Tuesday sharply criticized Trump.

“What the president is proposing is not only in violation of international and domestic law, it will also have a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable migrants and asylum seekers,” Roth told the Blade in a statement. “This is especially true of LGBTQ migrants who face higher rates of violence and discrimination at the border due to their sexual orientation and gender identity and who have higher rates of HIV and other underlying health conditions.”

“This is a travesty and a new low for this administration,” he added.

Roth and Stern spoke with the Blade before Trump addressed his executive order at the White House.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Los Angeles Blade. Follow Michael

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