Trump to announce new visa restrictions by today

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has said he would announce new restrictions on visas within a couple of days to block the entry of certain foreign workers and protect Americans struggling with a job market devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We're going to be announcing something tomorrow or the next day on the visas," he told Fox News Channel last Saturday.

Asked if there would be exclusions from the new restrictions, Mr Trump said there were very few.

"You need them for big businesses where they have certain people that have been coming in for a long time, but very little exclusion and they're pretty tight," he said. "And we may even go very tight for a period of time."

Mr Trump declined to provide further details.

One possibility under consideration would restrict people from entering the United States on visa categories including the H1-B programme for as long as 180 days, Bloomberg News had reported on June 12, citing two people familiar with the proposal.

The move would affect hundreds of companies and thousands of people; the H1-B is awarded to about 85,000 workers annually.

Critics have said Mr Trump looked set to use the pandemic to achieve his longstanding goal of limiting immigration to the US.

Mr Trump's tough stance on immigration is central to his pitch to voters as he runs for re-election on Nov 3.

Major American companies, particularly in the tech sector, have urged Mr Trump to refrain from blocking the flow of foreign workers into the US, saying that it would hurt the economy.

The new action would be Mr Trump's latest step to restrict immigration in response to the pandemic and economic fallout.

In April, he ordered a temporary block on some foreigners seeking permanent residency in the US.

He announced new health-focused rules in March that allow for the rapid deportation of immigrants caught at the border, and also virtually cut off access to the US asylum system.

At the same time, the President announced the land borders with Canada and Mexico would be closed to non-essential crossings, a measure that has since been extended several times.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2020, with the headline 'Trump to announce new visa restrictions by today'. Print Edition | Subscribe