In an apparent departure from his usual harsh agenda of repression and scapegoating against immigrants, especially those without legal status, the president has called for coronavirus testing to be made available to unauthorized immigrants. In a statement which almost seemed to mock the hostile language used against out-of-status immigrants by many of his supporters, and in answer to a question about whether "undocumented" immigrants should also be tested, Trump said:

"The answer is yes, we will do those tests because I think that in that case it's important...I think you could say illegal alien, you could say illegal immigrant, you could say whatever you want, use your definition of what you're talking about - we're all talking about the same thing...Yes, we will test that person."

While the president's support for reason and humanity toward immigrants in order to protect not only them, but potentially millions of Americans from the spread of the virus is welcome and commendable, his administration should also take immediate action to avoid the devastating effect of Stephen Miller's draconian new Public Charge rules which went into effect on February 24. These new rules have nothing to do with financial "self-sufficiency", but were overtly intended to make drastic reductions in legal immigration - especially for applicants from outside Europe.

Millions of immigrants who are in the US with legal visas and who might otherwise be qualified for permanent residence are likely to lose their jobs and means of support during the almost inevitable recession resulting from the pandemic. This will be the case no matter how many speeches Trump may make about "reopening America for business".

Under the new Public Charge rules, legal immigrants who lose their jobs or are otherwise impacted by the virus will be stigmatized as failing to meet the "self-sufficiency" requirements of the new rules, which were never about financial ability but were always about racial demographics right from the start.

This will inevitably create a huge new population of immigrants who will be barred from green cards or other legal status through no fault of their own because of this public health emergency. This violates even the most elementary standards of fairness and human rights.

Stephen Miller's new Public Charge rules should be immediately suspended for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis, if not permanently.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law