After vowing to ban immigration in a late-night tweet, President Trump said Tuesday the administration would temporarily halt the issuance of new green cards and would not stand in the way of guest workers entering the United States. “The farmers will not be affected. That is a very important point,” said Trump during a coronavirus briefing.
“If anything, we are going to make it easier” to hire foreign farmworkers, said Trump.
On Monday night, the president announced the temporary immigration suspension on social media, which he attributed to the economic disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. At the briefing on Tuesday, Trump said the executive order “is being written now” and would be signed today. There “will be certain exceptions,” he said.
Use of guest workers, who enter the United States on H-2A visas for seasonal agricultural work, has climbed in recent years. Foreign workers are more common in the Southeast than in the West, where the bulk of U.S. produce is grown, according to an analyst in California.
The administration has focused on making foreign workers available for agricultural work and has opposed a bipartisan House-passed bill that ties modernization of the H-2A guest worker program with granting of legal status to undocumented immigrants already working on the farm. Half of farm workers, perhaps 1.25 million, are believed to be undocumented.
Trump said the new order would be in effect for 60 days but could be extended.