While the Trump administration has been far from consistent in its approach to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, or even in admitting that there is one, there is one area where it has been fiercely consistent and never changed its approach. This is in blaming immigrants, both with and without legal status, for both the outbreak of the disease itself and for its devastating economic effects.

The president has not only reveled in using openly racist anti-immigrant epithets such as "kung flu" and "China plague" to refer to the coronavirus itself, but he has been doing everything possible to scapegoat immigrants for the economic consequences of a disease which his own record of denial, disinformation and appalling negligence and lack of concern for the health and safety of the American people.

The most recent examples of this agenda are Trump's recent bans on entry by legal green card applicants in many different categories and by H-1B, L-1 and other skilled professional legal immigrants, dated April 22 and June 22. However, as I have pointed out previously these bans are only the latest in a long series of actions beginning from his first week in office design to reduce, or ultimately, eliminate most legal immigration from nonwhite parts of the world.

Against this background, what actions can immigrants who lose their jobs take to preserve their legal status and survive in the United States? This comment will deal with two central aspects of this issue: The first is hoe to avoid losing legal status when one's job, Just as H-1B or L-1, depends on that employment.

The second, issue, financial survival, depends on access to unemployment benefits. First, before discussing the details of these two issues, it is important to begin with one basic proposition. This is that no matter how hostile the Trump-Miller administration is toward legal immigration in pursuit of its white supremacist agenda, it ides not have the power to simply eliminate legal immigration without the consent of Congress.

It true that the president has the power (at least in the opinion of a 5-4 Supreme Court party line decision) to make legal immigration for applicants who are already in the US more difficult and complex, as with Miller's novel Public Charge rule. But while the Republican Supreme Court majority has upheld virtual king-like power of the president to ban entry to the US by immigrants from abroad, Trump's power to call a halt to legal immigration by applicants who are already in the US is much more limited.

For example, many immigrants who are already in the United States may not realize that the green cars and H-1B/L-1 entry ban orders do not affect anyone who is currently in the United States. They only affect applicants for visas at US consular offices abroad - most of which are already closed anyway. At least in my experience, including messages from my own clients, there is widespread confusion about this point.


Secondly, there is good reason to hope that the Trump-Miller administration, the most hostile to legal immigration form outside Europe (what Trump calls "Countries like Norway" may not be in power forever (much as Trump sometimes hints that he would like - not necessarily as a joke. This will depend on the courage and determination of American citzens who believe in racial justice to make sure that their votes are counted in November.

Merely protesting and tearing down Confederate monuments will not be enough to rid America of plague of anti-immigrant racism, which Donald Trump has done just as much, if not even more to spread , as he has done with coronavirus itself.

With the above as introduction, I will now turn to my first topic, namely maintaining legal status for H-1B, L-1 and other nonimmigrant workers who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus - related employer closings or layoffs. For most people, this will involve applying ofr change of nonimmigrant status to B-1 or B-2 visitor.

To be continued in Part 2 of this 2 part series.

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law