In the past six months, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated injustice that face people all over the world. With over 7 million cases and counting, COVID-19 has affected every part of the world, leaving tragedy in its wake. Some countries have been able to mitigate the effects of the pandemic by employing strict lockdowns, disease tracking efforts, and thorough cleaning procedures, which have been effective in containing the spread. Unfortunately, other countries, like the United States, have been largely unable to contain the spread of COVID-19, in big cities and rural towns alike, in some part due to a divided and ineffective leadership. Without effective public safety protocols and a lack of economic stimulation on the part of the federal government, the American people are left with climbing death rates, looming evictions, and an inability to acquire basic necessities or care for their loved ones.
Like with many other crises before it, COVID-19 needs a scapegoat, someone that the American government can put all the blame onto for the fallout of the pandemic. One of the most popular scapegoats in the American tradition has been the immigrant, and this time, unfortunately, is no different. Instead of turning their attention to providing hospitals with Personal Protective Equipment, instituting government aid packages for small businesses, or enforcing lockdowns to keep Americans safe, the Trump Administration has instead turned their attention to halting immigration under the guise of public safety.
On April 22nd, President Trump passed an executive order that banned many kinds of immigrants from entering the United States for the next 60 days. On June 22nd, the order was extended until December 31st, 2020, with potential for further extension into 2021. The executive order specifically bans all those with H-1B and H-2B visas, as well as J and L visas. The reason cited in the order for banning immigration visas was that, since millions of Americans are currently unemployed, an influx of immigrants into the country will cause immigrant workers to “steal” jobs from citizens, thus further raising unemployment in the US.
However, this job-stealing myth is exactly that– a myth. The myth rests on the assumption that there is only a fixed amount of jobs in America, that can be filled completely. The truth is that jobs can be created, often through entrepreneurship by the very immigrants that the President wants to ban. Additionally, immigrants boost their local economies by spending their paychecks on American goods and services, alongside paying taxes. A US Department of Labor study administered by the Bush Administration found that immigrants pay, on average, 90 billion dollars in taxes every year, while only requiring 5 billion dollars in welfare aid programs. Research conducted by Lowell Gallaway and Stephen Moore found that, over a period of 100 years, a higher rate of immigrants in the US has corresponded with lower nationwide unemployment rates, not higher. Immigrants have had a positive overall impact on the United States economy by expanding both the output of and the demand for labor, as well as all the other ways outlined above.
Unfortunately, the Trump Administration has decided to ignore all these facts and pass the executive order to ban immigration into the United States, in an effort to lower unemployment rates. However, there are certain circumstances outlined in the executive order that allow certain people to immigrate into the United States, despite the order. Some exceptions to the immigration ban include people who are the spouse or child of a US citizen, a worker whose labor is necessary to the food supply chain, or a person whose presence in the United States would be critical to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. It may be difficult to want to continue in the immigration process in the face of such an executive order, but there are many exceptions to the order that may apply to you. Therefore, it can be beneficial to contact an immigration lawyer in these uncertain times to help you determine if you are eligible for immigration into the United States. An immigration lawyer is well-versed in immigration law and can interpret the complicated language of the executive order to determine if it applies to you or not. Additionally, an immigration lawyer can connect you to resources that will make your transition into the United States easier and safer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted our world economically, materially, and medically. To move forward, it is time for the US government to face the facts: immigrants are a huge positive impact on the United States and deserve to come to the United States to improve their own lives.