Washington: President Joe Biden reopened the country Wednesday to people seeking green cards, ending a ban on legal immigration that President Donald Trump imposed last spring, citing what he said was the need to protect American jobs during the pandemic.
In a proclamation, Biden said that the ban did "not advance the interests of the United States," challenging Trump's claims that the way to protect the American economy during the health crisis was to shut the country off from the rest of the world.
"To the contrary," Biden said of his predecessor's immigration ban, "it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here. It also harms industries in the United States that utilise talent from around the world."
The president's action was the latest example of his efforts to roll back Trump's assault on the nation's immigration system. Since taking office, Biden has issued several executive orders and directives aimed at lifting restrictions on immigrants put in place over the past four years.
In April, as the coronavirus crisis worsened, Trump ordered a "pause" in the issuance of green cards, one of the primary ways that foreigners can receive permission to live and work in the United States.
At the time, Trump described his action as a way to protect Americans, millions of whom lost their jobs as the threat of the coronavirus shut down the economy.
"By pausing immigration, we will help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens. So important," Trump said. "It would be wrong and unjust for Americans laid off by the virus to be replaced with new immigrant labor flown in from abroad. We must first take care of the American worker."
Critics of Trump accused him of using the pandemic as an excuse to further advance his agenda of severely restricting immigration. And many scholars noted that studies had repeatedly cast doubt on the idea that immigration was a direct threat to American jobs because many immigrants take jobs that Americans do not want.