- President Trump said he will sign an executive order suspending immigration into the U.S. during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The order has not been written and no confirmed details have been made public, but he could sign the order this week.
- Trump has been slowly restricting travel and immigration for weeks now, stopping most visa services and limiting travel from Europe and China.
- Despite backlash from local communities, construction of the border wall has also continued and some immigrant families were blocked from receiving stimulus funding.
Trump Announces Plan to Suspend Immigration
President Donald Trump announced plans on Monday to sign an executive order temporarily suspending immigration to the United States during the coronavirus pandemic.
“In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!” Trump tweeted.
The order has not been written, though Trump is expected to have something on his desk to sign in the coming days. The specific details about the order are unclear, but White House officials have spoken to several news outlets indicating what might be possible.
Officials told CNN that it could temporarily stop new green cards and work visas from being issued. That temporary timeline could be “120 days or so,” though nothing is set in stone.
Officials also told the Wall Street Journal that the order is expected to include exceptions for migrant farmworkers and healthcare workers. It is also not expected to impact those already in the United States or who have already begun the visa renewal process.
As expected, Trump’s announcement was met with a variety of reactions, with leaders on the right expressing their support, and leaders on the left condemning the action.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) said that Trump knows how to put American citizens first!”
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) thanked the president and suggested this suspension should last until the unemployment crisis is solved.
On the other hand Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said that the president made this choice to distract the public from his failed efforts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) said that Trump was taking “advantage of a crisis and advance his anti-immigrant agenda.”
Past Immigration and Travel Bans During Pandemic
This suspension comes as Trump has made several efforts to pause travel and immigration during the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel wise, he has restricted certain kinds of travel from China and Europe. He has also closed both of the United States’ borders.
He has even put holds on major aspects of immigration. Routine visa services from most countries have been stopped. Customs and Border Protection have also expelled thousands of migrants under a public health order.
Many believe that Trump’s choice to suspend immigration was inevitable, as he was already slowly doing so anyways. Alex Nowrasteh the director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in D.C., told the Washington Post he was surprised it took Trump this long to do so.
“The president has been opposed to legal immigration for his entire administration,” he said. “This is an opportunity to close it down entirely, and this is about as legitimate as you can get in terms of a broad justification for doing so.”
Still, some find it unclear if suspending immigration will actually be effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. According to a study by the Cato Institute that cited research from Nowrasteh, “there is no correlation between immigrant share of a county’s population in the United States and its rate of cases or deaths from COVID-19 controlling for population density.”
“Ultimately, viruses will spread faster where people are bunched together regardless of where they come from,” the report continued.
Wall Building and Stimulus Controversies
Immigration and travel bans have not been the only ways Trump has furthered his stance against immigration amid nationwide outbreaks. Throughout the pandemic, construction along the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico has continued.
According to The Guardian, Ajo, Arizona, a community where construction is taking place, is seeing hundreds of construction workers pass through each day. Residents in the area told the outlet that the presence of the workers makes the community feel uncomfortable.
Immigrants in the U.S. have also felt a hit when it comes to the stimulus check. Immigrants without legal status are not able to receive the check, despite working and paying taxes here. Their families are also impacted by this.
According to several reports, at least a million Americans will not be able to get the stimulus check because they are married to an immigrant lacking legal status who does not have a social security number. Because these married couples filed taxes together, they are blocked from the funding.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (Wall Street Journal) (Washington Post)
FDA Authorizes Moderna and J&J COVID Vaccine Boosters, Approves Mix-and-Match Doses
The approval will allow at-risk Americans who received Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to get any booster six months after their initial series and all Johnson & Johnson recipients 18 and older to do the same two months after their single-shot dose.
New FDA Authorization
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized boosters shots of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines and approved a mix-and-match strategy that will allow people who got one company’s shot to get a booster from a different maker.
The decision paves the way for millions of more at-risk Americans to get extra protection, and not just certain Pfizer recipients as previously approved by the FDA.
Under the authorization, people who received Moderna or Pfizer can get any one of the three booster shots six months after completing their initial series if they are 65 and older, at high risk of severe COVID, or face increased exposure because of their work.
Meanwhile, all J&J recipients 18 and older can get any of the approved vaccines two months after they received the one-shot jab.
Hazy Recommendations, For Now
Notably, the FDA did not recommend a certain combination of vaccines, nor did the agency say whether or not it would be more effective for people to stick with their original vaccine maker for their booster.
The new authorizations draw on a study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which found that there are no safety concerns with mixing boosters and that vaccine combinations were at least as effective in stimulating antibodies as matched vaccines.
In the case of J&J recipients, the NIH found that people actually had a higher boost from mixing either Moderna or Pfizer boosters.
However, some of the scientists who worked on the study said it should not be used to recommend one combination over another because the research was limited.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which determines vaccine recommendations, could issue more guidance on when and whether people should switch vaccine makers for their booster shots.
An advisory panel for the agency is meeting Thursday to discuss the new FDA authorizations and recommendations.
Once the panel makes its decision, the CDC director has the final say on the guidelines. If the agency agrees with the FDA’s decisions, the booster shots could be rolled out as soon as this weekend.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (NPR) (The Washington Post)
Paris Hilton Urges Lawmakers To Crack Down on Abusive Teen Treatment Facilities
The heiress alleges that she was a victim of abuse in these types of centers for two years and wants to ensure that no child suffers through the same experience.
Paris Hilton Details Abuse Within “Troubled Teen Industry”
Socialite and entrepreneur Paris Hilton spoke outside of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to support the Accountability for Congregate Care Act, which is set to be introduced in the near future.
Hilton joined Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), and Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to advocate for the legislation, which aims to create a “bill of rights” for children in treatment and behavioral centers.
The heiress has alleged that she spent two of her teenage years in these types of facilities and was subject to rampant abuse. She is far from alone.
During a press conference, Hilton said that one night when she was 16, she woke up to two large men in her bedroom forcing her out of her house. She said she screamed for help because she thought she was being kidnapped, but her parents watched as she was taken away to a “troubled teen” program.
“Like countless other parents of teens, my parents had searched for solutions to my rebellious behavior,” she explained in an op-ed for The Washington Post this week. “Unfortunately, they fell for the misleading marketing of the ‘troubled teen industry’ — therapeutic boarding schools, military-style boot camps, juvenile justice facilities, behavior modification programs and other facilities that generate roughly $50 billion annually in part by pitching ‘tough love’ as the answer to problematic behavior.”
Hilton said she was sent to four different facilities where she was “physically and psychologically abused.”
“I was strangled, slapped across the face, watched in the shower by male staff, called vulgar names, forced to take medication without a diagnosis, not given a proper education, thrown into solitary confinement in a room covered in scratch marks and smeared in blood and so much more,” she explained during the press conference.
“At Provo Canyon School in Utah, I was given clothes with a number on the tag. I was no longer me, I was only number 127,” she continued. “I was forced to stay indoors for 11 months straight, no sunlight, no fresh air. These were considered privileges.”
Goals of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act
Hilton claims that a lack of transparency and accountability has allowed this structure of abuse to thrive for decades. In some cases, she said it has taken children’s lives. Now, she wants Congress and President Joe Biden to act.
“This bill creates an urgently needed bill of rights to ensure that every child placed into congregate care facilities is provided a safe and humane environment,” Hilton said of the Accountability for Congregate Care Act.
“This bill of rights provides protections that I wasn’t afforded, like access to education, to the outdoors, freedom from abusive treatment, and even the basic right to move and speak freely. If I had these rights and could have exercised them, I would have been saved from over 20 years of trauma and severe PTSD.”
Foster children, children being treated for mental disorders, and other children in youth programs would be impacted by the bill.
Hilton was one of several survivors and advocates who fought for the legislation on Wednesday. Rep. Khanna thanked them for using their stories to fight for change.
“No child should be subjected to solitary confinement, forced labor, or any form of institutional abuse,” he wrote. “Thanks to Paris Hilton, my colleagues & the survivors & advocates who joined us today to discuss how we can hold the congregate care industry accountable.”
While only Democratic legislators are currently sponsoring the bill, Hilton called for a bipartisan effort to fight for the rights of children.
“Ensuring that children are safe from institutional abuse isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue,” Hilton said. “It’s a basic human rights issue that requires immediate attention.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Hill) (NBC News)
Surgeons Successfully Test Pig Kidney Transplant on a Human
The procedure has been hailed as a major scientific breakthrough that could eventually open the door to a renewable source of desperately needed organs.
Surgeons at the NYU Langone Transplant Institute revealed Tuesday that they temporarily attached a kidney from a genetically modified pig to a human patient and found that it worked normally.
The operation was the first of its kind and could one day lead to a vast supply of organs for those who are in severe need. According to the Associated Press, more than 90,000 people in the U.S. are in line for a kidney transplant. Each day, an average of 12 die while waiting.
With the family’s consent, the groundbreaking procedure was performed on a brain-dead patient who was kept alive on a ventilator.
According to the surgeons, the pig used was genetically engineered to grow an organ that wouldn’t produce a sugar that the human immune system attacks, which would then trigger the body to reject the kidney.
The organ was connected to blood vessels on the patient’s upper leg, outside the abdomen, and it was observed for over 54 hours, with doctors finding no signs of rejection.
Concerns and Hurdles Ahead
While the procedure was successful, this doesn’t mean it’ll be available to patients anytime soon. Several questions about long-term functionality remain, and it will still have to go through significant medical and regulatory hurdles.
Details of the procedure haven’t even been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal yet, though there are plans for this.
Experts are also considering the ethical implications of this type of animal-to-human transplant. For some, raising pigs to harvest their organs raises concerns about animal welfare and exploitation. Such medical procedures have already earned criticism from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.
“Pigs aren’t spare parts and should never be used as such just because humans are too self-centered to donate their bodies to patients desperate for organ transplants,” PETA said in a statement, according to The New York Times.
On the other side of the debate are people like Dr. Robert Montgomery, the director of the N.Y.U. Langone Transplant Institute who performed the breakthrough procedure in September.
“I certainly understand the concern and what I would say is that currently about 40% of patients who are waiting for a transplant die before they receive one,” he told BBC.
“We use pigs as a source of food, we use pigs for medicinal uses – for valves, for medication. I think it’s not that different.”