Last night, President Trump tweeted that he would sign an executive order temporarily suspending all immigration into the United States. This order would not only be an assault on our American values and a cruel extension of the Administration’s family separation policies, but counterproductive to mitigating the COVID-19 public health and economic crisis.
We are a country of immigrants. Even under much worse circumstances, we haven’t halted immigration. To do so now would be to succumb to fear and cut ourselves off from not only the vital tools we need to get through this crisis, but also the values that make us American. We have already seen the Administration enact cruel policies that betray America’s inclusive legacy and shutting down immigration altogether will only inflict further damage. By halting immigration, we halt families’ legal ability to reunite with each other. This is cruel, and in a time when families everywhere are already reeling from the separation of social distancing, we need to be bringing them together as best we can.
What’s more, millions of immigrants are on the front lines confronting this pandemic working in hospital, harvesting our food, delivering our groceries and caring for our loved ones. They are risking their lives for us. We need to protect and embrace them, not build walls and close our hearts to them. After this crisis, we will need these workers contributing to the economy’s recovery. If we refuse to admit immigrants until then, that could create numerous labor shortages across multiple sectors, extending the recession for far longer than necessary, hurting everyone in need of nurses, agriculture workers and the other essential services immigrants disproportionately provide.
It is unclear if and how President Trump will be able to implement his proposed ban on immigration. But, right now, we need our leaders to focus on testing, hospital supplies, and economic relief for working families, not scapegoating entire populations for political convenience. Tens of thousands of people have died because of the Coronavirus, millions more are out of work, and millions more than that are fearful and anxious for the future. Only by coming together, acknowledging and embracing the value immigrants bring to our communities and our country, can we get through this crisis.