Trump’s proclamation will harm Indian immigrants and Indian-Americans, favoring Western Europe

A man exits the transit area after clearing immigration and customs on arrival at Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, U.S., September 24, 2017. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan/Files

President Trump announced plans on April 20 to “temporarily suspend immigration into the United States,” and signed a Presidential Proclamation on April 22, 2020.
Out of the 1.1 million green cards that the United States typically issues each year, some 358,000 would not be approved as long as this proclamation is in effect.
This week’s executive action includes the following elements:
• Decisions on green card (“immigrant visa”) applications filed from abroad (“consular processing”) will be delayed for at least 60 days.
• The proclamation will not apply to any green card applicants who are spouses or minor children of U.S.
citizens.
• The proclamation will not apply to any green card applicants filing from within the United States (“adjustments of status”).
• The proclamation will not apply to Special Immigrant Visas or EB-5 (“immigrant investor”) visas.
• The proclamation will not apply to any temporary visas (student visas, H-1B visas, etc.), whether filed from within the United States or from abroad.
Far and away the primary immediate impact is that parents will be separated from their children, for no legitimate economic or public health purpose. For as long as this proclamation is in effect, the parents, siblings, and adult children of U.S. citizens, as well as spouses and young children of permanent residents, simply won’t be allowed to begin a new life together in the United States—even after the State Department consulates reopen, and even though these families have been waiting for years or even decades.
If this policy is in effect for a period of years, then it is certain to favor immigrants from Western Europe relative to other regions of the world, since they are more likely to be exempt (see below for more details).
Indian Nationals And Indian-Americans
On average, some 60,000 Indian nationals receive green cards each year, the first step toward eligibility for U.S. citizenship.
The great majority of Indian nationals who apply for employment-based green cards do so as temporary workers on H-1Bs and other visas. Because they are already in the United States, the new proclamation will not impede their green card applications.
If perpetuated, however, the new proclamation would block 35% of all green cards for Indian nationals—around 21,000 per year. This is because the proclamation would ban the approval of green cards for about 3,700 parents of U.S. citizens, about 16,000 other relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and about 1,600 employees of U.S.-based companies, all of whom live abroad.
Trump’s Proclamation Would Cut Overall Immigration by 33%
In the long run, Trump’s new proclamation would block a third of all the people who would otherwise be approved for a green card each year, by suspending most applications for permanent residency filed from abroad:
• Most parents of U.S. citizens apply from abroad, leading to a 59% decline in eligibility.
• The vast majority of other family-based green card applicants apply from abroad, leading to a 93% decline.
• On the other hand, most employment-based green card applicants are already in the United States on temporary work visas, so the proclamation would not affect them, and this category would experience only an 11% decline.
• The Diversity Visa program would be effectively terminated.
Out of the 1.1 million green cards that the United States typically issues each year, some 358,000 would not be approved as long as this proclamation is in effect.
Most of the people applying for these green cards have already been waiting for years or even decades for a final decision—the proclamation would extend this delay indefinitely.
Trump’s Proclamation Mirrors His Unsuccessful Legislative Agenda
Back in 2017, President Trump announced his support for the “RAISE Act,” a bill that would dramatically cut immigration and that was immediately declared “dead on arrival” in Congress.
Despite the fact that Congress has not approved restrictions on immigration since 1965, Trump’s new proclamation would accomplish almost exactly the same cuts as the unsuccessful RAISE Act.
In one respect, Trump’s proclamation is much more restrictive than the RAISE Act, by blocking lawful permanent residents from bringing their spouses and young children to the United States on green cards.
Trump’s Proclamation Favors Immigration from Western Europe
Trump’s proclamation will block relatively few immigrants from Western Europe, Canada, and Australia, while blocking relatively more immigrants from Asia, Africa, Central America, and Eastern Europe.

Region# blocked% blocked
Canada9109%
Western Europe4,91615%
Australia and New Zealand85625%
Mexico44,41527%
South America22,64829%
Middle East, South and East Asia135,31234%
Central America84,46434%
Africa44,78239%
Eastern Europe24,71642%
Central Asia4,79460%

Boundless applied the proclamation’s likely restrictions to green card approval numbers from each country and region listed above (using DHS and State Department data from Fiscal Year 2018).
The “number of green cards blocked” includes the following categories when filed from abroad: family-based immigrants, employment-based immigrants (except for EB-5 investor visas), diversity visas, and parents of U.S. citizens (calculated as 34% of all immediate relative immigrants, which is the average proportion).
The proclamation does not block green card applications filed abroad by spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens or Special Immigrant Visas, as well as any green card applications filed from within the United States.
The “percent of green cards blocked” is the number of green cards blocked under the proclamation divided by the total number of green cards that would normally be issued in a given year (using the five-year annual average between Fiscal Years 2014–2018).
As a general matter, the Diversity Visa program is only available to nationals of certain countries—many of them in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia—so the proclamation’s suspension of the program hits these regions particularly hard.
Conversely, individuals from Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are more likely to already reside in the United States on a temporary work visa when they apply for a green card, putting them beyond the reach of Trump’s proclamation.

(Photo: LinkedIn)

Doug Rand worked on immigration policy in the Obama White House as Assistant Director for Entrepreneurship, and is now the co-founder of Boundless Immigration, a technology company that helps immigrants obtain green cards and citizenship and provides regular immigration policy alerts.

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