On Wednesday, President Trump signed an executive order to suspend immigration to the US and halt the issuance of new green cards for the next 60 days as part of his administration's efforts to protect American workers, amidst the coronavirus crisis that has wrecked havoc in the country.
"This proclamation is antithetical to everything we believe as Americans and only uses immigrants as scapegoats," James said in a statement on Wednesday as Trump signed the proclamation.
She said her office stands "ready to take legal action" and will not allow Trump to usurp Congress's authority by presidential proclamation.
"Immigrants are on the front lines of the fight to battle the coronavirus, and are providing the essential services that are keeping our nation and our economy moving forward," she said, adding that immigrants provide the American society with health care, care for the elderly, "prepare and deliver our food, clean our hospitals and public spaces, and take on so many other essential roles in our society." The proclamation signed by Trump says that green card holders or "lawful permanent residents, once admitted, are granted 'open-market' employment authorisation documents, allowing them immediate eligibility to compete for almost any job, in any sector of the economy.
"There is no way to protect already disadvantaged and unemployed Americans from the threat of competition for scarce jobs from new lawful permanent residents by directing those new residents to particular economic sectors with a demonstrated need not met by the existing labour supply." Trump said in the proclamation that he has "determined that the entry, during the next 60 days, of certain aliens as immigrants would be detrimental to the interests of the United States." As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 22 million American workers have applied for unemployment benefits, which is a record in itself.
In the coming weeks, several more millions are expected to being laid off as the US economy is in tatters. Trump said that this pause on new immigration will also help to conserve vital medical resources for American citizens.
The suspension and limitation under the proclamation do not apply to, among others, lawful permanent resident of the United States, individuals seeking to enter the United States on an immigrant visa as a physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional, to perform medical research or other research intended to combat the spread of COVID-19 or to perform work essential to combating, recovering from and alleviating the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.
At least 842,376 coronavirus cases, including 46,769 deaths, have been recorded in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally. And globally, more than 2.6 million people are infected and at least 183,000 killed by the deadly COVID-19.
According to a recent report by Congressional Research Service, currently there are almost 1 million lawfully present foreign workers and their family members waiting to receive a green card. This employment-based backlog is projected to double by financial year 2030.
"Under current law, and owing to a limited number of green card issuances, the current backlog of 568,414 Indian nationals would require an estimated 195 years to disappear," CRS said.
As per the existing law, the US can issue a maximum of 1,40,000 employment-based Green Cards every year with a per country cap of seven per cent.
Accordingly, in fiscal year 2019, Indian nationals received 9,008 category 1 (EB1), 2,908 category 2 (EB2), and 5,083 category 3 (EB3) green cards. EB1-3 are different categories of employment-based Green Cards.