On April 26, Dr, Deborah Birx, one of the top White House medical officials dealing with the coronavirus response, warned that social distancing must continue through the summer. In her words:

"Social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these phases."

https://www.vox.com/2020/4/26/21237563-social-distancing-through-summer-birx-coronavirus

But it appears that this note of caution, responsibility and respect for reality, has not reached USCIS, which announced on April 24 that it would be reopening its offices and rescheduling appointments beginning on June 4, as if everything were back to normal. The announcement did not cite any medical support for its decision or explain why it would be safe to reopen so soon. See:

https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/uscis-offices-preparing-reopen-june-4

This could force many thousands of applicants for legal immigration benefits, including green cards and asylum, to make the same choice that the US Supreme Court recently forced on Wisconsin voters: risk one's life or lose one's rights (in that case the right to vote - in this case the right to stay in the US legally).

If USCIS is serious about this rush to reopen, despite this clear warning from one of the Trump administration's most capable and highly respected medical officers, this would take the Trump's already apparent hatred and contempt for all immigrants, legal as well as unauthorized, to a dangerous new level.

Even the most routine green card or other immigration benefit processing requiring a personal appearance at a USCIS office might cost an applicant his or her life - as well as putting USCIS staff members in danger. COVID-19 does not discriminate between immigrants and immigration officials.

USCIS's plan to reopen without any apparent regard for the lives and safety of immigration benefit applicants or of its own personnel, is entirely consistent with Trump's larger attempt to downplay or deny the seriousness of the pandemic when he thinks this would be to his own political advantage.

But when Trump believes he can use the pandemic as an excuse for cutting back on legal immigration, especially from the "shithole" countries he despises, then he has no hesitation in presenting the pandemic as a very serious problem indeed - a national emergency of the first order.

The most recent example of this was his using the pandemic as an excuse to advance his long-held goal of banning entry of immigrants in many green card categories which are widely used by nonwhite, non-European immigrants, as he did with his April 22 executive order.


Meanwhile, Ignoring warnings of his top medical officials regarding the virus, (while promoting his own dangerously fake "cures") may help to create an illusion of return to normalcy which might boost Trump's reelection chances. But this could come at a terrible cost to immigrants and American citizens alike, close to 50,000 of whom have already died from COVID-19 in the US.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law