Just this week, President Trump declared via twitter at 10:06pm Monday night, that he would be suspending all immigration into the US. This fiat will presumably be implemented through an Executive Order–which as of now, has yet to be released-so there are naturally many unresolved questions. At this point, no one (arguably even staffers within the Administration) knows the extent or breadth of the forthcoming order, ie., whether it will provide “carve outs” (or exceptions) for certain classes such as medical and agricultural workers, or whether it will impose a blanket bar on all foreign nationals including but not limited to spouses, children and siblings of US Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents. It is conceivable that all non-US citizens, including green card holders may come under the scope of the interdiction. Litigation will likely ensue once the order is put out and the issue will be whether President Trump is within his powers to declare such a moratorium on immigration, which is statutorily provided for in the Immigration and Nationality Act. At issue will be the President’s power under INA 212(f), which provides, in part:
Whenever the President finds the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
For all practical purposes, an order now will not necessarily change the present landscape. That is because consulates abroad are currently not conducting interviews for immigrant/non-immigrant visas due to the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, any effect will not be felt until consulates are scheduled to reopen and resume operations. For all we know, the President’s tweet may be nothing more than rhetoric and an attempt to rouse his base, but in reality, nothing more than a reframe of what is already the reality. In any case, given that the order will be vigorously contested in the courts, any such proclamation may not take effect for several months-if determined to be legal. We will, of course, post further details as we learn them. Please check back here regularly.