Immigration advocates should not issue a sigh of relief over the fact that Donald Trump's April 22 ban on legal immigration is limited to green card applicants, and, among those, only applicants who happen to be located outside the US. As others have pointed out, Trump's proclamation clearly states that there will be a "review" within 30 days concerning adding additional restrictions. Trump also mentioned this himself in announcing his authoritarian diktat.

Just it would be a nothing more than a joke to imagine that Trump will allow the green card ban to expire in 60 days, when the November election is only five months away, there is also every likelihood that Trump will add some, or many, nonimmigrant visa categories to the ban, including, for starters, H-1B, which has long been a target of immigration opponents. It is also possible that Trump might try to extend the ban to legal immigration applicants who are already in the US, though this might create additional legal problems for him.

This is because the Supreme Court's Republican majority, which in its 2018 Trump v, Hawaii Muslim Ban decision gave Trump the virtual power of a dictator over immigration, applies only to immigrants seeking to enter the US under INA Section 212(f). While Trump v. Hawaii represents a major continuation of a shameful Supreme Court tradition of upholding the power of the government's "political" branches - Congress and the president - to engage in racial and religious discrimination against immigrants - in the spirit, if not the letter, of Dred Scott (1857) Chae Chan Ping (The "Chinese Exclusion Case" - 1889) and Korematsu (1944), the Muslim Ban decision does not (yet) give the president a dictator's power to rewrite laws affecting legal immigrants who are already in the United States.

Given Trump's appalling negligence, and his fraudulent attempts to downplay the danger of the coronavirus, pandemic which are becoming more apparent day after day ad Trump defies advice of his own medical experts to try to "reopen" America at the height of the health danger to promote his own reelection chances, it would be absurd to think that Trump's latest immigration ban, with even more very likely to come, is meant a serious attempt to combat the pandemic.

To the contrary, the latest ban is merely a continuation of the same strategy of exploiting anti-immigrant hate that got Trump elected in the first place, as The Guardian reports on April 26. See:

Donald Trump set to fall back on xenophobia with re-election plan in tatters


As if there are any possible doubt that Trump is far more interested in "protecting" America against nonwhite legal immigrants than he is in protecting against the deadly coronavirius which has now infected almost a million people and taken more than 50,000 lives in the US, the Washington Post reports on April 28 that AG William Barr is now threatening to sue state and local governments which enact urgent medical restrictions for protect their citizens.

These are not the actions of an administration which has the slightest interest in protecting the public against this deadly pandemic, which is the ostensible reason for Trump's latest immigration restrictions.

As I will show in Part 2 of this 2-part comment, the United States has a long and shameful history of using crises, whether war or economic, to whip up prejudice against immigrants on racial or religious grounds and to bar or expel them from the United States as scapegoats. Donald Trump is squarely within this tradition. Moreover, he is also breaking new and dangerous ground in using anti-immigrant hate to expand presidential power beyond anything previously known and to overthrow our democracy.

To be continued in Part 2.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law
Harvard Law School LL.B.
Harvard College A.B.