President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that will temporarily halt the issuance of certain green cards as he uses the coronavirus pandemic to push long-stalled immigration measures during an election year. But he backed away from initial plans to suspend guest worker programs after business groups reached out to the White House in outrage at the possibility of losing access to foreign labor.
The proclamation excludes guest worker programs for temporary nonimmigrant visas for hundreds of thousands of workers a year, including farm workers, software engineers and others in fields deemed to have labor shortages. It also does not apply to green-card applicants already in the United States.
The US Supreme Court has affirmed President Donald Trump's vast power over immigration, greenlighting his travel ban for certain majority-Muslim countries in 2018 and, more recently, letting him move forward with border wall funding and new rules for low-income green card applicants. The travel-ban decision loomed large this week as Trump cited related legal powers to suspend the issuance of green cards for 60 days. His order, covering thousands of foreigners waiting to come to the country, ratcheted up tensions over authority he has seized for an anti-immigration agenda, now amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and the approval he has won from the court's conservative majority.