What Trump’s Executive Order Actually Means for Jobs

President Donald Trump’s executive order claims to protect American jobs from immigrants — but it might be more about optics.

Donald Trump 2016 campaign rally
Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign rally in Arizona. (Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

Vandana Menon


April 23, 2020

U.S. President Donald Trump’s latest executive order order this week temporarily suspends immigration into the United States during the ongoing pandemic. In the order, Trump said he wants to “protect already disadvantaged and unemployed Americans from the threat of competition for scarce jobs.” The order suspends entry to people who are currently outside the United States and don’t have any visa or travel documentation.

On the surface, this executive order claims to be about protecting American jobs and “preserving critical State Department resources”— over 22 million have filed for unemployment since just April 11 and many U.S. citizens are still stuck abroad. But some experts say the order might really be about optics for Trump’s re-election campaign as he heads into fall with a less-than-stellar economy — the order won’t necessarily save jobs. 

In essence, the executive order seems like most other convoluted Trump decisions — full of inconsistencies and vagaries that have left the policy community with their heads scratching. For one, the order doesn’t affect people already legally in the United States, rich EB-5 holders (green cards given to foreign investors, who invest at least $500,000 toward job-creating projects), people who would “further important United States law enforcement objectives,” members and immediate family of the country’s armed forces, people sponsored by institutions such as employers or universities, or people seeking visas as healthcare workers or medical researchers combating COVID-19.

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