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Trump signs order suspending immigration

President Donald Trump attends a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Wednesday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/1d60ac968313b90a351f637669ae0c9f/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
President Donald Trump attends a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Wednesday. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

April 22 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order immediately to temporarily close U.S. borders to migrants, in a controversial move he says will protect Americans facing hardship due to the coronavirus crisis.

Trump announced the signing at a briefing by the White House Coronavirus Task Force on Wednesday evening after first announcing the measure Monday night.

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Trump said the temporary suspension is aimed at protecting U.S. jobs, which have been hampered by the global health crisis. Eighteen million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits over the past three weeks.

At his briefing Tuesday, Trump said the ban will remain in effect for 60 days, at which point he will determine whether an extension is needed. He added that the order will apply only to migrants seeking permanent residency in the United States, and will not apply to seasonal farm workers.

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"By pausing immigration, we will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens," he said.

A White House statement released Wednesday added that exceptions will be made for medical and other essential workers to combat the coronavirus outbreak, spouses and minor children of American citizens, and certain others.

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Trump also asked the administration to review guest worker programs to assess whether additional measures should be taken.

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Critics have said the border closure is unnecessary and studies have already shown that travel restrictions have done little to slow the spread of the disease. Some see it as an attempt to shift blame away from his administration's slow response to the pandemic.

"You have nobody to blame but yourself for this completely bungled response to a deadly crisis," Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted. "Not immigrants. Not governors or mayors. Just you. Stop scapegoating immigrants with more racism and xenophobia and do your job."

The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the order for delaying the ability of families from reuniting and preventing employers from hiring workers.

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"While the order is limited in scope, President Trump's transparent attempt to distract from his own failures with this unwarranted suspension will cause real pain for families and employers across the country," said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. "Meanwhile, he continues to fail to take obvious steps that will save lives -- like releasing people from [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] facilities that cannot keep them safe from COVID-19. We all deserve better leadership than this."

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California life in the COVID-19 pandemic

A pedestrian walks past a bar established in 1933 after Los Angeles County officials closed it for the second time following a spike in COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles on August 10. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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