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Q&A: What we know right now about Trump’s order to temporarily suspend immigration to the United States

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, April 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Monday, April 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Trump administration officials on Tuesday morning scrambled to finalize an executive order after President Donald Trump said in a late-night tweet he would temporarily suspend immigration to the United States as the nation battles the health and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some key answers to questions you may have:

What did Trump say?

"In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!" he tweeted.

What will the order say?

It will apply only to people seeking green cards, will last 60 days and won’t affect workers entering the country on a temporary basis.

Trump said it would “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States."

He said the provision would amount to a 60-day pause only on people seeking permanent resident status in the United States. He said he would review the executive order at the end of that period and decide if it should be renewed. He did not say when he would sign it.

Trump emphasized the economic effects of the order, indicating it would “protect American workers.”

What kind of impact will the order have?

What effect the order will have on the operation of US border crossings and on those who already hold green cards remained unclear.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the Trump administration has tried to move forward with some of its most restrictive policies that it had struggled to put into practice prior to the spread of the coronavirus, including blocking entry to asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, as Trump is looking to close the border, he is encouraging protests against stay-at-home orders and has issued a call for the states to phase-in reopenings beginning May 1.

Are there changes being made to the immigration system right now?

The Trump administration has made sweeping changes to the country's immigration apparatus as the US responds to the coronavirus pandemic, altering daily operations and disrupting the lives of thousands.

Immigration to the United States has largely been cut off amid the pandemic.

In a little over a month, there have been more than a dozen changes to the system, ranging from postponing immigration hearings to pausing deportation flights to certain countries to swiftly removing migrants arrested at the border and suspending refugee admissions. The tweaks to the system are being made incrementally, though rapidly, as the pandemic continues to spread across the country.

Against the backdrop of the outbreak, the Trump administration is also trying to move forward with some of its most restrictionist policies it has struggled to be put into practice, including blocking entry to asylum seekers.

Is this a move to ignite Trump’s base?

Trump's reelection campaign and allies are already touting and defending his newly announced executive order to temporarily halt immigration to the United States, even as the White House has yet to release the full details of how the administration intends to implement the President's plan.

The flurry of steps reflected the political underpinnings of Trump's late-night announcement on Monday, which the President said came in "light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizen." The move -- which could prove largely symbolic, given the restrictions on immigration already in place due to the coronavirus pandemic -- allows Trump and his campaign to play directly to his base on the issue of immigration, which the President believes won him the 2016 election and he hopes to use again in 2020.

After Trump announced the order on Twitter, his campaign bombarded supporters with text messages and email alerts informing them of the decision and touting it as a prime example of Trump's "America First" approach. The President's newly installed press secretary issued a statement saying the move reflected Trump's commitment to "protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens," without explaining who would be affected by the order, what it was limiting or when it might be signed. Later, she wrote that Democrats had "betrayed" the "hard-working Americans President @RealDonaldTrump is putting first."

What are Democrats saying about all of this?

Democrats were quick to raise doubts about the plan and the motivations by the White House to push a plan like this forward at this particular time.

“I think it is another diversion. The agencies don’t even know what it is,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, on CNN’s “New Day.” “No one knows what it is. Last -- yesterday, the day before, we were talking about WHO. I think the President ought to stop these diversions.”