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Some Christian groups condemn Trump's order temporarily suspending immigration for 60 days

Some Christian groups condemn Trump's order temporarily suspending immigration for 60 days

President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence walk along the Colonnade of the White House prior to a coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Monday, March 30, 2020, in the Rose Garden at the White House. | White House/Tia Dufour)

Some Christian humanitarian and activist groups have expressed concerns over President Trump's announcement that the U.S. will temporarily halt immigration for 60 days. 

The president said Tuesday that he felt a "solemn duty" to the more than 22 million Americans who are now out of work due to layoffs spurred by the coronavirus. Federal, state, and local governments took emergency actions last month in an attempt to reduce the number of infections and fatalities from COVID-19 by closing businesses and services deemed non-essential. 

"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. Guest workers, however, will be allowed to continue working in the U.S. 

On Monday evening, Trump announced that his administration would take this action as a way to continue to curb infections of the coronavirus and to help the economy since the U.S. now has a surplus of labor after more than 22 million Americans were laid off following state lockdown orders.

“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,” the president tweeted.

U.S. immigration courts have not been processing green cards or visas since the global shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic that originated in Wuhan, China. 

Nearly all visa processing has been suspended for weeks and travel has been restricted from many countries worldwide including the U.K., Europe, Canada, China, and Mexico, The Associated Press reports. Similarly, the EU has banned travel between member nations, and Canada and Mexico have extended their own travel restrictions. 

Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy & policy for the refugee resettlement organization World Relief, said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post that they were “very concerned by the idea of shutting down all legal immigration, particularly now, as the nation is slowly coming out of the COVID-19 shutdown.”

“Immigrants already undergo careful health screenings before being allowed into the U.S., and given that the virus is already spreading widely within the U.S., further restrictions on immigration do nothing to improve the public health situation,” Yang said. “Instead, they lead to family separation and slamming the door of our nation to the persecuted.”

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, defended the executive order, saying on the Fox News program "Fox & Friends" that it was comparable to earlier restrictions. 

"It’s the same opposition they had when the president, on January 31, halted flights in and out of China. That decision saved lives in America," Cruz said

"The Democrats makes a lot of noise about wanting to do more to stop the spread of coronavirus but when the president stands up and does that, all they can do is attack him."

Another Christian activist group that denounced the president's decision was the Franciscan Action Network. In a statement posted on their website Tuesday, FAN said they were “appalled by the latest manifestation of the Trump administration’s xenophobia, making another midnight policy announcement to suspend all immigration into the country.”

It continued, “The administration has used the pandemic as cover for multiple detrimental policy changes: from gutting various environmental regulations and extending the separation of children from parents on the border to defunding the World Health Organization.”

The faith-based charity organization Church World Service also denounced the president’s plan to temporarily suspend immigration and used the same terminology as FAN by arguing that the executive order is xenophobic.

CWS President Rev. John L McCullough said in a statement released Tuesday that he considered the decision part of a “hardline anti-immigrant agenda.”

“To let xenophobia dictate our response to this public health crisis is despicable. Much like with the pandemic, the president ignores the experts and follows the rantings of extremists,” McCullough stated.

“Our economy is made stronger by immigration and our recovery will depend on the growth and revitalization immigrants bring to our communities.”

On Tuesday morning, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the president's executive order, saying: "President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times. As President Trump has said, 'Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African American and Latino workers.' At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary."

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