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Trump says 60-day immigration ban will "help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs"

Trump to suspend most immigration for 60 days
Trump to suspend most immigration for 60 days... 02:52

Highlights from the White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing:

  • President Trump expanded on his immigration ban, saying it will last for 60 days.
  • "By pausing immigration, we'll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens," Mr. Trump said.
  • Mr. Trump said he will ask large companies that were able to take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program to return back the money.
  • Mr. Trump singled out Harvard to return federal funding, although the university did not receive PPP funding.

President Trump on Tuesday announced that he's suspending immigration to the U.S. for 60 days amid the coronavirus pandemic. Mr. Trump said the action will put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs and health care, and that it will apply to people seeking permanent residency. 

"By pausing immigration, we'll help put unemployed Americans first in line for jobs as America reopens," the president said during Tuesday's Coronavirus Task Force briefing. 

The president said the executive order is being written now and will most likely be signed Wednesday. Mr. Trump tweeted late Monday plans to take executive action to temporarily suspend immigration to the country because of the illness.

In Mr. Trump's "the attack from the Invisible Enemy" and the "need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens." A White House source said the executive action likely will be in the form of a presidential proclamation that will be signed in the coming days.

Halting immigration has been the de facto position of the Trump administration since March 20, when the State Department ordered consular offices closed and stopped issuing visas. The State Department said at the time it was "temporarily suspending routine visa services at all U.S. Embassies and Consulates," and embassies and consulates were instructed to "cancel all routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa appointments."

On March 26, the State Department said the H-2 program, which includes temporary agricultural workers, is "essential to the economy and food security" of the U.S., so these visas would continue to be processed "as much as possible."

Donald Trump coronavirus task force — April 21, 2020
President Donald Trump speaks as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin listens during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Getty

The president also said Tuesday that Harvard University will pay back the funding it secured through the CARES Education Fund, although the university did not receive PPP money. Mr. Trump said he will also ask large companies that were able to take advantage of the program to pay back the money. 

Harvard has the largest endowment of any academic institution in the world.

"Harvard's gonna pay back the money," Mr. Trump interjected Tuesday when a reporter asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin whether he would ask large entities that received financial assistance from the federal government to pay it back. 

It's unclear whether the president has some agreement from Harvard, or whether the president will ask the Ivy League school to pay back the $9 million it received.

In a statement, Harvard said it had not applied for or received any funds through PPP and it had received funds through the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. "Harvard has committed that 100% of these emergency higher education funds will be used to provide direct assistance to students facing urgent financial needs due to the COVID-19 pandemic," the university said. 

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