Human rights bodies, in particular those working among immigrant communities, have slammed the Trump administration’s decision to suspend certain non-immigrant work visas until at least the end of the year. The ban on issuing H-1B, H-2B, J-1 and L-1 visas will harm employers, families, universities, hospitals, communities, and delay America’s economic recovery, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said.
President Donald Trump also extended his administration’s April order banning the admission of legal permanent residents which has already separated families and weakened communities, it said.
“We are all still in the middle of an unprecedented global health and economic crisis that requires us to use all of the tools and resources available to keep Americans healthy and strengthen our economy,” AILA President Jennifer Minear said.
“Being able to draw on the best and brightest from around the world has always been an incredible advantage for America. This presidential proclamation ignores this reality and will make emerging from this crisis more difficult and expensive,” Minear said. The expanded ban will impact highly-educated individuals outside the US seeking to enter on H-1B and L-1 visas for intracompany transfers, as well as certain H-2B temporary seasonal workers and most J-1 exchange visitor participants.
Spouses and children of these visa holders are also prohibited under this new proclamation, said American Immigration Council. “The Trump administration’s latest travel ban targeting people who come to the United States as temporary workers, students, and visitors who participate in international exchange programmes is a thinly-veiled attempt to radically shift immigration policy by proclamation. This is not about public health or the economy,” said Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council.
Many of the people the administration is banning are family members of those on the front lines combatting the coronavirus, she said. “The ban is a threat to our American tradition of immigration. We must stand united in opposition to the president’s latest action to advance his well-documented anti-immigration agenda,” Werlin said.
“This is yet another attempt to reduce immigration – even temporary immigration – under the guise of a public health crisis,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, president and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. “This order will shut the door on more than 1,60,000 foreign-born workers and the families they support,” she added.
These changes are made in the name of protecting American jobs, but a significant number of these visas are allotted to family members of highly-skilled immigrants, she noted. “Approximately 45,000 wives, husbands, sons, and daughters will be barred from the country – how does excluding immigrant children protect American jobs?” Vignarajah said.
“We are slamming the door on talent, entrepreneurship, and innovation that we literally cannot find anywhere else,” concluded Vignarajah.
“This move is bad for business, bad for our recovery, and bad for America’s standing on the worldwide stage. Politics should not trump smart policy – we should be harnessing the ingenuity of these workers to revive an economy in dire straits,” she said.