Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters

People waiting to reschedule their immigration hearings on Tuesday in Ciudad Juárez on an international bridge between the United States and Mexico.

On April 22, U.S. President Donald Trump signed, as he promised, an executive order banning immigration into America for 60 days. At the core of the move is the suspension of the issuance of any new green cards to immigrants into America. This latest move comes as the United States is in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and with an estimated 40,000 American citizens already pronounced death from the disease.

Trump’s ban on travel into America has a long history, according to Monsy Alvarado and Alan Gomez, writing for USA Today on February 24. They say these travel bans potentially impact thousands of Africans who want to immigrate to America.

A February 21 travel ban by the administration impacted several African nations, notably Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation. The move also bared Sudan and Tanzania from the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program which brings in immigrants from countries with historically low immigration into the U.S., most of them African nations. 

Many Civil Rights groups condemned those actions, according to this report from NBC News. This opinion piece by Opal Tometi on CNN said the February travel ban was an attack on Africans.

In addition, an earlier travel ban in 2017, upheld by the Supreme Court, placed restrictions on travel to America from Libya and Somalia, among other nations.   

The Latest Immigration Ban, Why is Trump Doing this Now?

Lets look at the latest ban on April 22, imposed through an executive order, which took effect April 23, and what it is supposed to do.

Writing for Buzzfeed News, Hamed Aleaziz summarized the move as follows: 

“The proclamation suspends access to green cards for family members of permanent residents who are outside of the United States, parents and siblings of US citizens abroad, and thousands of people who come to the country as part of a lottery system for 60 days.” 

As presented, the reason the president gave was that he wanted to protect American workers and jobs adversely impacted by a downturn following the coronavirus situation. But when you look at this in detail the move makes little sense. After all the president already imposed other severe travel restrictions even when there was no Covid-19.

Writing for the Five Thirty Eight blog, Perry Bacon Jr. writes:

“But there are reasons to be skeptical of Trump’s stated rationales. The president nearly always cites economic and security reasons for adopting various anti-immigration stances — and experts nearly always say that those rationales don’t stand up to scrutiny.

In this analysis, writers at the New York Times explain what may be going on:

“Mr. Trump, whose administration has faced intense criticism in recent months for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, abruptly sought to change the subject Tuesday night by resuming his assault on immigration, which animated his 2016 campaign and became one of the defining issues of his presidency.”

Greg Sargeant, a left-leaning columnist at the Washington Post, thinks the ban is a scam. He says we should not pretend otherwise. 

So, why is Trump, really, doing this now? Coronavirus is already here, so what is the point? Your guess is as good as mine.

Remember the 2020 elections are around the corner. So, the president, who has already made other drastic immigration moves impacting many African nations, and while still popular with his base, needs to do something, now, to please a segment of that base.

Kimberly Atkins, a journalist at WBUR in Washington D.C., speaking with Brian Williams on The 11th Hour on April 21, described the move as “an ever-green popular approach to his base.”