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Last week, Trump issued an Executive Order to ban new immigrant visas in the United States for 60 days. The following is a statement from Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF:

In the middle of a global health pandemic, the likes of which we have not seen in over a generation, we find ourselves standing at a crossroads as a country and a world: one way leads to a place in which we unite and work towards a common good and recognize that we are all in this together. The other leads to scapegoating the upcoming economic repercussions of the administration’s mishandling of this crisis on immigrants, while actively stripping away the human rights of communities of color. As we can see by the recent Executive Order, the Trump administration has chosen the latter. By positioning the “halting of immigration” as a way of “honoring American workers,” the administration seeks to continue its ongoing assault on immigrant communities.

The Executive Order issued on April 22nd, 2020, has doubled down on a divisive white supremacist agenda that further otherizes the communities most impacted by the crisis. By foreshadowing the administration’s intent to "assess whether additional measures should be taken," it also pushes vulnerable communities into the shadows, thereby putting their lives in danger and ensuring even more lives are needlessly lost in this pandemic. Time after time, the Trump administration has used its authority as an excuse to slam the door on immigrants who are trying to enter this country while also blocking existing pathways to citizenship for people who have lived here for decades. Ironically enough, the same immigrant communities being targeted are the ones working on the frontlines of COVID19 response as essential workers. This paradox is even embodied in the Executive Order itself, as certain carve outs were made for everyone from farm workers to doctors. Unfortunately, carve outs like this do not fully account for the impact on immigrant families or for the fact that the carve outs could be rescinded at any moment.

This executive order is a step backwards akin to “Operation Wetback,” a dark time when the United States government deported thousands of U.S. citizens with Mexican roots. We at LatinoJustice PRLDEF unequivocally denounce this executive order and call upon Congress to use this time to make sure that all immigrant communities are protected from aggressive immigration enforcement.