Trump immigration vow stirs serious blowback

Democratic lawmakers and political nonprofit groups are blasting President TrumpDonald TrumpRobert Gates says 'extreme polarization' is the greatest threat to US democracy Cassidy says he won't vote for Trump if he runs in 2024 Schiff says holding Bannon in criminal contempt 'a way of getting people's attention' MORE’s announcement that he will sign an executive order banning all immigration during the coronavirus pandemic.

They are labeling it as a xenophobic attempt to divide the country that also distracts from the White House’s response to a health crisis that has killed more than 42,000 Americans.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisAbrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Replace Kamala Harris with William Shatner to get kids excited about space exploration Republicans would need a promotion to be 'paper tigers' MORE (D-Calif.) tweeted that the president “failed to take this crisis seriously from day 1,” and that Trump is “shamelessly politicizing this pandemic to double down on his anti-immigrant agenda.”

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Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D) tweeted: “Once again, rather than rise to the moment, Trump uses shameful anti-immigrant rhetoric as he faces re-election. Sadly for America, he has failed on leadership, testing, and competence. Xenophobia will not undo his failures, and it will not save American lives.”

Trump has won some support from conservative Republican lawmakers for his proposal, which was framed as saving jobs for Americans as unemployment rises during the pandemic.

“Democrats are flabbergasted why we wouldn't want to continue bringing in new workers even though we have millions of workers here at home that we need to get back to work,” Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzThe Memo: Conservatives change their tune on big government The CDC's Title 42 order fuels racism and undermines public health Ocasio-Cortez goes indoor skydiving for her birthday MORE (R-Texas) told Fox News in response to criticism of Trump.

Sen. Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - House debt vote today; Biden struggles to unite Arkansas legislature splits Little Rock in move that guarantees GOP seats The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike MORE (R-Ark.) tweeted his support, citing the 22 million Americans who have filed for unemployment in the past month due to the country's economy largely grinding to a halt because of the virus.

“Let’s help them get back to work before we import more foreigners to compete for their jobs,” he tweeted. 

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Former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE started calling for the president to halt immigration last week.

“American families and workers must come first. It is morally wrong and economically disastrous to import more foreign workers when millions of Americans are out of work through no fault of their own,” Sessions, who's running for his old Alabama Senate seat, said on April 16.

Roy Beck, the president of NumbersUSA, a political nonprofit that is in favor of reduced immigration, said that the president's tweet “indicates a sensitivity to a primary purpose of immigration laws of every country, and that is to protect a nation's vulnerable workers from harmful competition,” adding “most immigration at this moment makes no sense.”

Other political nonprofit groups — both liberal and conservative — condemned the move.

“This is the wrong approach. Ideas that further isolate America are not only contrary to who we are as a country but are misguided plays on our current anxieties,” Jorge Lima, senior vice president of policy for the conservative-leaning Americans For Prosperity, said in a joint statement with Daniel Garza, president of Libre Initiative, a political group backed by the Koch family.

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Amnesty International USA’s national advocacy director Joanne Lin said that Trump was furthering “bigotry and xenophobia that have been hallmarks of his presidency from day one.”

In a tweet, Cris Ramón, the Bipartisan Policy Center's senior immigration policy analyst, said immigrants are facing the same struggles as citizens.

“Recessions and viruses do not distinguish between citizens and non-citizens. We cannot allow [President Trump] to divide the country through his executive order,” he tweeted.