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Proposed Executive Order Suspending U.S. Immigration Proposed Executive Order Suspending U.S. Immigration

Proposed Executive Order Suspending U.S. Immigration

President Trump intends to issue an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the U.S. in an effort to protect American jobs and slow the spread of COVID-19. While the President has broad authority on matters of national security and during national emergencies, it is not yet clear how far reaching the immigration suspension will be or what legal authority the President has beyond suspending new admissions to the U.S. Depending on the extent of the proposed suspension, challenges are likely, similar to legal actions related to travel bans and other restrictive initiatives. The President’s plan is consistent with the America First agenda, as well as the Buy American, Hire American Executive Order issued in 2017, which has impacted the legal immigration system in a variety of ways.

With the temporary closure of U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide for visa services, the closure of Canadian and Mexican land borders to non-essential travel, and the suspension of Premium Processing for expedited service on certain visa applications, the admission of foreign nationals individuals not currently present in the U.S. is already effectively on hold. The U.S. immigration system is under significant strain with normal processing times and other visa backlogs ranging from months to years. Additional suspension of services is likely to exacerbate these delays. Until a formal Order from the President is issued, uncertainty remains on whether the suspension will include immigration filings made on behalf of foreign nationals currently in the U.S. Arguably, applying the Order to such individuals would not meet either of the stated objectives around slowing the spread of the virus or protecting American jobs. Foreign nationals seeking a continuation of lawful immigration status are not bringing the virus into the country as they are already present in the U.S. Moreover, existing immigration law and policy already requires employers to contemplate the impact of foreign national employment on the American workforce and violators can be identified through audits and other regulatory tools.

Additional updates to the President’s planned Executive Order will be shared as they become available. Please contact Jenifer Brown or Christl Glier with questions.

This publication is intended for general information purposes only and does not and is not intended to constitute legal advice. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how laws or decisions discussed herein apply to the reader’s specific circumstances.
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