Administration escalates its COVID-19 exploitation in extended and expanded immigration ban

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — The administration’s June 22 extension and expansion of its April proclamation blocking many visa entrants from coming to the United States is a thinly veiled attempt to use the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout as cover for the administration’s racist, anti-immigrant agenda. The expansion cuts off H-1B, H-2B and L-1 employment visas and and many J visa programs.

“The original proclamation and this expansion and extension have nothing to do with COVID-19 or the well-being of Americans,” said Jill Marie Bussey, CLINIC’s advocacy director. “This continues the administration’s attacks on family unity and hurts many others. In addition to hamstringing employers, these orders prolong the suffering of those who have already been waiting a long time to reunite with their loved ones.”

The April 22 proclamation banned many people who are seeking lawful permanent residence to reunite with family in the United States, those with employment sponsorships, and applicants for diversity visas, among others. The ban on diversity visas — a program intended to create immigration access for underrepresented nationalities — disproportionately affects Black immigrants from Africa. The original proclamation tries to pit people against each other, falsely insinuating that immigrants threaten the economic welfare of African Americans, minorities and the disabled. The expansion will extend the ban for these immigrant categories through at least Dec. 31, 2020.

“The administration is trying to deceive us by saying if we shut down these visa categories, America’s economic crisis will be alleviated,” said Bussey. “It’s the same as shutting down the border to asylum seekers in the name of COVID — they’re pushing a false narrative, scapegoating immigrants and failing to actually put in place policies that will mitigate the pandemic’s path of destruction.”

CLINIC also remains gravely concerned about the impact of the ban on immigrant religious workers. “There has rarely been a time in the history of our country when religious workers have been so needed,” said Miguel Naranjo, director of CLINIC’s Religious Immigration Services. “So many lives have been lost; families need comfort and spiritual guidance to deal with their pain, to try to accept this new reality in which we find ourselves.”

CLINIC calls on the administration to use evidence-based strategies rather than fear-mongering to mitigate the economic crisis. Bussey added: “All of us are needed on a global scale to confront the pandemic. Our response must be grounded in the inherent worth, dignity and contributions of each and every person. Fear and division will without a doubt make things worse and lead to more pain.”