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Trump Plans to Temporarily Suspend Immigration into U.S.

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  • 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. 

Responses

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)

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Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”

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  • Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19. 
  • The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot. 
  • So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.

Florida Requires Proof of Residency

Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.

Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it. 

According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents. 

Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers. 

Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited

Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north. 

“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)

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Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”

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  • Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
  • Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
  • Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.

Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”

At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.

First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony. 

“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”

Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.

“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”

What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”

Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing. 

“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.  

That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”

“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”

Nation Impressed by Gorman

“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.” 

Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment. 

“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”

Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration. 

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation. 

Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day. 

See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)

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SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section

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  • The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June. 
  • The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
  • Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary. 
  • It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.

College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay

College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.

Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”

The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary. 

While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S. 

Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.

With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.

The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test

In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.

In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.

According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.

For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April. 

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (NPR) (The New York Times)

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