President Trump announced yesterday his intent to close down the United States to all immigration, barring anyone across the world from living and working here.
We do not know what this means in terms of policy, but we do know that it’s another unspecific demand driven by racism, white supremacy, and scapegoating. The administration has consistently used national crises to push anti-immigration policies, fabricating vague justifications to enact laws that have real, terrible impacts on our immigrant community. Families have been separated and many have died in detention centers because of these cruel policies.
There is zero public health rationale for this move. Immigrants are crucial to this nation’s response to the pandemic. They disproportionately work “essential” jobs in hospitals, grocery stores, farms, and industries responding to the crisis. Thousands of DACA recipients are working as nurses and doctors, on the frontlines of care and exposure and the low-wage cooks and delivery workers who continue to feed us while we’re in quarantine are immigrants.
But the administration has instead used the coronavirus pandemic to attack immigrants. A month ago, the administration halted all asylum into the country, summarily deporting at least 10,000 people with no due process whatsoever. People diagnosed with coronavirus have been sent to countries like Guatemala instead of given proper care, endangering their lives and worsening the crisis.
Now, even children are turned away. Any child who shows up at the border is turned back. They’re put on planes and flown back to Central America, alone, returned with little guarantee of their safety.
The pronouncement is also a farce, a reactionary attempt at policymaking tweeted out with no details. As we’ve seen in the past with the Muslim ban, family separation, Remain in Mexico, and more, the administration will now labor to enact Trump’s proclamation into policy. It will not initially pass legal muster. It will be challenged in the courts and held up, but it will have served its purpose: to energize the president’s base with xenophobia.
Still, it may easily become policy, affecting the lives of thousands, as has every anti-immigrant policy eventually enacted under this administration. We must not let that happen. We will fight any executive order that comes down the pipeline attempting to curtail immigration.