Trump bars immigrants seeking permanent residency
President Trump continues to rehaul immigration in the name of coronavirus. He signed the much-anticipated executive order barring some immigration to the United States Wednesday night, saying it needed to be done to protect American jobs.
“By pausing immigration we’ll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens, so important,” Trump said at the White House. As of last week, 22 million Americans are newly unemployed as businesses remain shut down out of concern for the spread of COVID-19.
The order isn’t quite what he tweeted about on Monday night, stopping short of an all-encompassing ban on immigration, but instead barring the issuing of new green cards for the next 60 days. The order applies to foreigners seeking green cards, which provide employment, and relatives of current green card holders. In 2019, about 1 million green cards were issued, half of which were for new arrivals to the US.
The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank, estimates the order would block around 26,000 green cards monthly.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that adjudicates green cards, visas, and immigration documents, has closed its offices nationally and abroad due to the coronavirus, which is slowing down application processing.
Trump has already temporarily suspended travel from Iran, China, and many European countries that had coronavirus cases, in addition to his longstanding travel bans, which impact 13 Middle Eastern and African countries.
“The president’s latest immigration ban shows that the executive branch has too much power over immigration policies, and it’s time for Congress to step up and be the legislative check that our democracy needs them to be,” said Mohammed Missouri, executive director of Jetpac, a local nonprofit focused on increasing Muslim engagement in the political process, in an interview.
He said that the government should instead be focused on a national stay-at-home order and expanding health care benefits to the unemployed.
On Tuesday, before the executive order was even released, Gov. Charlie Baker said he disagrees with the president’s plan to issue immigration suspension. “It doesn’t make any sense and I don’t think it makes us any safer,” he said.
Rep. Richard Neal told MassLive that Trump’s Tuesday night tweet was unexpected.
“His announcement has even caught members of his administration by surprise,” Neal said. “During these uncertain times, I would urge the president to stay focused on COVID relief and not recommend a policy change that would be unprecedented in the history of the United States.”
Gov. Charlie Baker starts talking about the “rules of the road” for reopening the state, and says the current May 4 reopening date may not apply. (CommonWealth)
Healey says she’ll scrutinize how big Massachusetts banks handled applications for the $349 billion federal Payroll Protection Program after complaints about big customers getting favored treatment. (Boston Globe)
The Senate passed a bill to let public notaries certify documents through videoconferencing. (Salem News)
The state inspector general began investigating the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home six weeks before the first resident was diagnosed with COVID-19. (MassLive)
Massachusetts is one of the first states to launch a federal program giving money, put on EBT cards, to families whose children are eligible for free or reduced lunch while schools are closed during the pandemic. (MassLive)
An analysis of state death data over the last two decades suggests COVID-19 deaths are likely to be higher than the number so far reported. (Boston Globe)
State Lottery sales are shrinking due to the pandemic, which does not bode well for municipalities that depend on Lottery revenue. (Eagle-Tribune)
A Southbridge homeless shelter set up an 11-bed tent to accommodate social distancing requirements. It is one of 11 communities that receive supplies from MEMA to set up spaces to quarantine homeless individuals. (Telegram & Gazette)
As COVID-19 deaths at long-term care facilities keep rising, the state secretary of health and human services provides some context, saying some reporting suggests deaths never occur at nursing homes. (CommonWealth)
Evidence is mounting that there are lots of asymptomatic people infected with coronavirus, which means it may be hard to contain its spread but also suggests we may be past the peak. (Boston Globe)
The temporary mortuary at Landry Arena in Fitchburg is up and running and has received seven bodies so far. (Telegram & Gazette)
UMass Memorial Medical Center reports its first successful plasma transfusion with a COVID-19 patient. (MassLive)
President Trump has tweeted support for protest efforts to “Liberate Michigan” and “Liberate Minnesota,” but he thinks Georgia’s governor is liberating things a bit too soon. (New York Times)
Virus notes: 22 Massachusetts mayors back vote by mail….ACLU of Massachusetts claims the state Department of Correction isn’t providing correct information on inmate infections….Despite missing data on 56 percent of cases, the nonprofit Massachusetts Public Health Association says black and Latinx people are far more likely to catch COVID-19 than whites. Asians, however, are less likely than whites. (CommonWealth)
The coronavirus is deferring dreams for black and brown business owners, as many remain cut out of federal assistance programs. (CommonWealth)
Unemployed people across the country are in many cases making more now than they did when they were working, thanks to the $600 bump they receive as part of the federal stimulus package. In Massachusetts, that’s not happening because it’s a higher wage state. (New York Times)
The now-cancelled Brimfield Antiques Show will be moving online, to retain some semblance of the iconic event. (Telegram & Gazette)
More than one-third of renters across New England may be unable to pay rent come May 1, according to a new report. (MassLive)
Rhode Island has taken a much more aggressive approach to keeping K-12 learning going online than Massachusetts. (Boston Globe)
Massachusetts is setting up mobile hotspots in some Western Massachusetts towns that still don’t have broadband internet to help students get online. (MassLive)
Harvard said it won’t take emergency stimulus money after President Trump lashed out at the university, though the money would have been earmarked to aid lower-income students. (Boston Globe)
More than 100 MBTA workers have tested positive for COVID-19. (MassLive)
The fate of a big transportation bill on Beacon Hill that includes a bump in the gas tax now seems uncertain. (Boston Globe)
The Baker administration’s official net-zero emissions targets gets mixed reviews. One senator calls it “silly math.” (State House News)
US Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Seth Moulton want more information on how the Seabrook, New Hampshire, nuclear plant will be refueled safely during the coronavirus pandemic. (Gloucester Daily Times)
Former FBI agent John Connolly, who has served 17 years of a 40-year sentence for his connection to a murder tied to Whitey Bulger, wants out of a Florida prison because of the risk of contracting COVID-19. (Boston Herald)
The Supreme Judicial Court vacates the conviction of Anthony Mazza, who was accused of robbing and killing a man in Boston in the 1970s. (MassLive)
MEDIAThe Seattle Times received a nearly $10 million loan/grant from the federal Payroll Protection Program. (Seattle Times) Axios says it received $5 million.
The New York Times is reportedly planning to shelve its Sundays sports and travel sections during the pandemic. (Cheddar)