President Trump extended a ban on new green cards and work visas until months after he leaves office, citing continued weakness in the U.S. labor market due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Trump on Thursday signed a proclamation that extends to March 31 immigration restrictions he first put into effect in April and renewed in June.
â€œThe effects of COVID-19 on the United States labor market and on the health of American communities is a matter of ongoing national concern, and the considerations presentâ€ in the previous proclamations â€œhave not been eliminated,â€ Trump said.
The extension of the restrictions, which include a freeze on new H-1B and H-4 visas used by technology workers, continues Trumpâ€™s aggressive campaign to limit various types of immigration to the U.S. during his term.
The extension through March means the curbs will be in place when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20.
Technology companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the countryâ€™s biggest business lobbying organization, have criticized the bans as damaging to the nationâ€™s economy. The chamber and other trade groups have sued to block the restrictions.
Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is among the companies that have expressed support for a court order blocking Trumpâ€™s policy.
The U.S. unemployment rate in November was 6.7%, down from 14.7% in April at the height of business shutdowns related to the pandemic, but nearly double the 3.5% rate in February. The jobless rate for December will be released on Jan. 8.