President Donald Trump unleashed his "April surprise" on Monday night, sending shock waves from the Beltway Swamp to Silicon Valley with a long-overdue announcement: "In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens," he declared, "I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!"
The usual suspects inveighed against the still-unseen proposal early Tuesday morning. My inbox was flooded with twitching and moaning from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Foundation-funded outfit, which called a freeze the "wrong approach" and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which ranted (as usual) about "white nationalists" and "racism." The infuriated Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the "irrational and insidious" plan (that no one had yet seen) and called for "people of all decency" to "denounce this xenophobic agenda." Lawsuits are already being prepared against an executive order that hasn't been written or signed.
For nonhysterical observers of the Trump administration, however, the outcome was perfectly obvious: initial excitement followed by abject letdown as actual details have trickled out over the last 48 hours.
Do not forget: 26 million American workers across the wage scale are out of work as a result of pandemic-induced lockdowns and layoffs. Dire straits demand extreme measures. The well-being of our native workforce and the millions of families dependent upon them must be Washington's top priority, not big business, big agriculture, Silicon Valley, academia or foreign countries clamoring to send their students and workers here to replace ours.
Despite White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany crediting Trump on Tuesday morning for understanding that "(d)ecades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens," at his Tuesday evening press conference, Trump revealed that the prematurely heralded and scorned immigration suspension will last a mere 60 days and will exempt temporary foreign visa holders.
Head. Bang. Desk.
This is a cynical betrayal of the burgeoning "America First" movement. It's all moratorium hat and no cattle:
--All new green card applications and routine visa processing were already suspended on March 20.
--Refugee resettlement was already suspended the same week and is scheduled to be frozen until at least May 15 (although more than 1,000 Afghan refugees were flown in over the past month while the rest of us have been ordered shut in our own homes).
--Foreign travelers from China and Europe, plus Canada and Mexico, were already barred from entering (though thousands of H-2A and H-2B agricultural and seasonal workers got in and some 35,000 more expect a green light despite virus outbreaks at Chinese-owned meat plants packed with foreign laborers).
--The annual H-1B lottery for Chinese and Indian tech workers was completed last month and a total of 475,000 H-1Bs are safe while untold thousands of American STEM students, graduates and workers lost their livelihoods.
--Despite massive layoffs of H-1B workers in tech, there is no move to send them home. Instead, immigration lawyers are outrageously advising H-1B and other temporary visa holders (including those in the L-1, B-1 and R categories) that they are eligible for stimulus checks.
--More than a million F-1 foreign student visa holders remain in the country, including nearly 400,000 from China, as do hundreds of thousands of foreign students who secured Optional Practical Training work permits in STEM fields, displacing American workers.
--More than 4,000 J-1 foreign health worker visas were freed up earlier this month while American medical professionals lost their jobs. The American Medical Association, which has artificially suppressed the supply of doctors for decades to inflate wages, is whining about shortages and pressuring to relax J-1 rules and time limits even further.
The clamor for an immigration moratorium has been steadily rising, from Pat Buchanan's advocacy, dating back to his first presidential campaign in 1992, to immigration hawk Jeff Sessions' call for an employment-based visa freeze last week. With a whopping 79% of Americans now in favor of a full halt to immigration (according to a recent USA Today/Ipsos poll), this was Trump's golden opportunity to seize momentum. Instead, we got a mess of squander and blunder.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is more interested in appeasing India than protecting American workers. White House adviser Jared Kushner and his top aide Christopher Liddell (former Microsoft executive) have prioritized appeasing Apple and Amazon. I've learned from insiders that there are at least 15 categorical exemptions on the table and more in the works.
A one-time, 60-day Swiss Cheese-holed farce of an immigration ban will do far more harm than good for Donald Trump. Think about it this way: Various illegal immigration ethnic blocs have been granted "Temporary Protected Status" continuously since 2001. Why do hordes of foreigners get a permanent reprieve while American citizens will be asked to settle for a measly comma before getting drowned again in mass migration? The executive order should cover all foreign influxes and should be renewed for at least as long as the longest TPS extensions: 19 years.
We need Permanent Protected Status for American citizens. Full stop.