The Trump administration’s changes to the US immigration system during the pandemic have been swift and sweeping.
Many measures were initially billed as temporary but have been extended repeatedly as coronavirus continues to spread. And it’s likely there’s more to come as the 2020 election looms.
The latest changes came last week, when the Department of Homeland Security unveiled a new proposal to bar asylum-seekers on public health grounds and Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced new rules for international students.
In the face of widespread criticism and numerous lawsuits, officials Tuesday rescinded the controversial foreign student visa policy just eight days after announcing it. The measure would have barred international students who take only online courses from staying in the United States.
Critics accuse the administration of using the pandemic as a pretext to enact unnecessary immigration restrictions and advance particularly harsh policies that had struggled to gain momentum prior to the public health crisis. Trump maintains he’s making good on his core campaign promise to put America first.
Citing the pandemic, the Trump administration has…
• Suspended routine visa services at US consulates (March 13)
• Paused all refugee resettlement in the US (March 18)
• Closed the borders to non-essential travel (March 21)
• Suspended new green card applications from abroad (April 22)
• Told foreign students they could face deportation if they’re attending universities offering only online courses due to Covid (July 6), then changed course days later and rescinded the new policy (July 14)
* Note: Travel bans included exceptions for US citizens and permanent residents. Some immigration courts have now reopened. Some USCIS offices have also reopened and officials have resumed conducting citizenship ceremonies.