A leading U.S. Senator urged President Donald Trump to cancel his executive order to suspend 60-day green card issuance and sought H-1B visas for foreign workers to meet the rising demand for health workers because of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
On Wednesday, President Trump signed the executive order to suspend certain forms of immigration to the U.S. for 60 days to protect the jobs of Americans fired from the COVID-19 pandemic that has plagued the country’s economy.
The H-1B Visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to employ foreign workers in specialized professions that require theoretical or technical expertise.
“The Trump administration’s announcement of a temporary halt to immigration is the opposite of what is currently needed for the health and safety of our country,” said Senator Michael Bennet in his first letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Department of Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad Wolf.
“The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and (State Department) must work immediately to expedite the processing of visa applications from health professionals and give them greater flexibility to practice in specialties or locations where they are most needed, “Bennet,” said a Democrat.
In the second letter, Bennet called on Trump to reverse the executive order he issued on Wednesday and to suspend the issuance of new green cards to the United States for at least 60 days.
The temporary suspension of immigration will affect those who want to enter the US legally for work purposes, but not those who already live in the country, the order said.
Current regulations can compel health workers to suspend this work and even leave the country if their visa expires.
In addition, individuals with H-1B visas often cannot practice outside of specialties and locations designated by their sponsor.
Since the H-1B visa is tied to the specific specialty for which they were issued, a doctor with this visa cannot be enrolled in another public health program or transferred or relocated temporarily.
Each of these regulations undermines health workers in the country while the pandemic is already under enormous pressure, he said.
“Using a global public health crisis to promote an anti-immigration agenda against the immigrant tradition on which this country is built,” Bennet wrote in the second letter.
“More than twenty-five percent of all physicians and seventeen percent of all health workers are immigrants … instead of honoring our country’s proud immigrant history, the government has endangered countless lives in the interests of strengthening its anti-immigration agenda, ”he wrote.
The executive order, he said, follows a broader anti-immigrant policy package from the Trump administration.
‘IS IMMIGRATION POLICY HARMFUL FOR PUBLIC HEALTH’
Previously, the administration had suspended routine visa processing at U.S. consulates and embassies abroad, closed borders with Canada and Mexico to non-essential travel, and postponed judicial data for migrants under the Migrant Protection Protocol program.
In the first two weeks of April, the U.S. deported nearly 3,000 individuals, while the U.S. still has the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the world, he said.
The senator, who asked Trump to reverse the executive measure, demanded that his government stop all anti-immigration policies that are detrimental to public health and security as the U.S. struggles to fight Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19 ).
Using a global public health crisis to promote an anti-immigration agenda is very problematic and runs counter to the tradition of immigrants on which this country is built.
“It will also not reverse the fact that the administration has failed to tackle the pandemic earlier and more aggressively. Further restrictions on immigration will only create uncertainty for immigrant families, resulting in greater uncertainty and economic damage to the US,” he said.
Foreign-born individuals make up a large percentage of those on the front lines of this pandemic, he said, adding that more than twenty-five percent of all physicians and seventeen percent of all health workers are immigrants.
“Nearly forty percent of all medical / life scientists in this country, many of whom are investigating remedies for the virus that caused this pandemic, were born abroad,” he said.
Moreover, more than thirty percent of all farm workers, seventeen percent of all grocery and supermarket employees and more than eighteen percent of all food deliverers were born abroad. These individuals deserve our warmest praise and support, not a policy that creates fear and harms their families, friends or communities. We shouldn’t make it harder for them to be with their loved ones during this difficult time, ”Bennet said.
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