Last night (April 20), President Donald Trump unleashed a new threat against legal immigration, tweeting that to protect the nation against an “invisible enemy,” he “will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” 

The wheels seem to already be in motion, as administration officials are reportedly working on a  draft to have completed in the next few days that will put a 120-day pause on “some” new green cards and work visas, according to CNN. CNN reported the order may include exemptions for farmworkers and health care providers while exempting others who are deemed “essential.” These new restrictions would be on top of the administration’s already harsh migration policy. On April 21, CNN published a list highlighting the more than a dozen changes that have been made to immigration policies since March 10, moves that play well to Trump’s “base,” those he hopes to rally for his 2020 reelection bid. 

As expected, Democratic leaders and immigration and human rights advocates are pushing back with tweets of their own. “This is not about the policy. It is about the message the president wants to send,” tweeted Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum. “He wants people to turn against ‘the other.’ And, regardless of the valuable contributions immigrants are making to the response and recovery, he sees immigrants as the easiest to blame.” 

Thanks to the more than 254,000 migrant or seasonal farmworkers that California hires, over a third of the nation gets to have vegetables and two-thirds get fruit and nuts, according to a 2018 California Department of Food and Culture report

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, agreed with Noorani that Trump’s tweet was more about politics than policy. “This action is not only an attempt to divert attention away from Trump’s failure to stop the spread of the coronavirus and save lives but an authoritarian-like move to take advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda,” Castro tweeted.

Other congressional leaders, such as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, made pithier and more direct statements about Trump’s position when he shared his reaction via tweet, with three words: “Xenophobe. In. Chief.”

As for the White House, as of press time, media outlets report zero updates or official details on the halt.