Trump to suspend immigration to US for 60 days amid coronavirus crisis

President cites job protection as the reason behind an executive order.

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President Trump at a recent briefing of the caronavirus response effort.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that his administration would suspend immigration to the US for 60 days, temporarily blocking entry to green card recipients seeking permanent residency. The president said the move is necessary "to protect US workers" as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

"I will be issuing a temporary suspension of immigration into the United States," Trump said during a White House briefing Tuesday. "By pausing immigration, we'll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs. It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad."

Trump said the order will be re-evaluated after 60 days and may be modified "based on economic conditions." 

The suspension, which is expected to affect tens of thousands of people, was first announced by the president in a tweet Monday night.

"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!" Trump said in a tweet.

The US has the largest number of coronavirus infections, with more than 780,000 confirmed cases -- an increase of more than 20,000 on Monday. The US death toll also exceeded 42,000 on Monday.

Trump's announcement came amid mounting concerns the pandemic will have deep, long-lasting effects on the economy. Some economists suggest that we're already in a recession, while others predict an economic future more dire than anything since the Great Depression. As many as 16.8 million US workers have applied for unemployment, with another 5.2 million joining their ranks just this week.

Under an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March, US border officials have moved to rapidly process migrants encountered along both land borders. The Trump administration also announced it would deny entry into the US by certain border-crossing migrants, including those seeking refuge, by invoking sweeping powers to deny entry to foreigners the government determines could carry a communicable disease.