The COVID-19 pandemic has restricted the movement of people across the U.S., both by state restrictions and voluntarily. The Trump administration’s first step was to prohibit all incoming travel from China, where the novel coronavirus originated. Subsequent steps have reinforced the administration’s already-historically strict immigration regulations regarding immigrants entering the country at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Trump administration closed off its northern and southern borders to nonessential travel in March by invoking power given to the Surgeon General in 1944 to prevent foreign nationals who pose a public health risk from entering the U.S. It is the first time that power has ever been used. Asylum seekers and other undocumented immigrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border are being forced to wait in Mexico or return to their country of origin.
Other countries have also banned asylum
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that at least 173 other countries implemented travel bans, border closures and other mobility restrictions as protective measures against the pandemic. According to the Migration Policy Institute, a number of other countries, including Canada, Greece and Hungary, have also suspended some or all asylum applications.
In the U.S., the current policy has been extended to late July, but some fear the president will keep the restriction on non-essential travel in place well into the fall and turn it into a political issue rather than a health issue as the November election nears.
An economic risk
To date, President Trump has been issuing numerous proclamations suspending the granting of both non-immigrant and immigrant visas issuances on the basis that an influx of migrants may pose a risk to the U.S. labor market at a time when the country is trying to rebound from an economic collapse caused by the pandemic. Please refer to the June Proclamations post for more details. The restrictions come with numerous exemptions. It does not apply to individuals that are already in the U.S. with temporary visas, current green card holders, immediate family members of U.S. citizens, foreign-born health care workers and their families, and individuals applying to the EB-5 individual investor program and their families.
The immigration situation is constantly in flux as individual states determine how to respond to the COVID virus and revive their economies. David Hirson & Partners is monitoring all of our clients’ and partners’ immigration needs. We are available via email (info@ hirson.com) and telephone (949-441-4003 to answer your questions.
For more information about this topic, please click on this link for the latest Presidential Proclamation released on June 22nd.