Trump signs order curbing foreign workers

Jane Richards
April 19, 2017

Then-President-elect Donald Trump holds up a Green Bay Packers jersey in December. The jersey was given to him by House Speaker Paul Ryan at a rally in West Allis.

Trump said Canada has been "very, very unfair" to dairy farmers and "we're going to start working on that".

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, responded to an executive order that President Donald Trump signed today enforcing and reviewing the H-1B Visa program.

Trump will sign the so-called "Buy American, Hire American" executive order during a visit to Snap-On Tools in Kenosha, Wis.

The new order would direct USA agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the program.

The order tasked four department heads (including the Secretary of Labor, who has yet to be confirmed) to suggest reforms to ensure H-1B visas are given to the "most-skilled or highest paid" petitioners.

But the White House said the programme is undercutting American workers by bringing in cheaper labour and that some tech companies are using it to hire large numbers of workers and drive down wages. "With this order, I am directing every single agency in our government to strictly uphold our Buy American laws, to minimize the use of waivers, and to maximize Made in America content in all federal projects", the president said.

"If it turns out America is a net loser because of those free-trade agreement waivers, which apply to nearly 60 countries, these waivers may be promptly renegotiated or revoked", the second official said. The waivers could be renegotiated or revoked if they are not perceived as benefiting the United States.

"American workers have long called for reforms to end these visa abuses", Trump said. But the Trump administration says they've been watered down over the years.

The Trump administration rolled out policy shifts earlier this month to begin cracking down on the H-1B visa system.

"We are deeply committed to helping USA clients leverage technology to transform their businesses, empower their employees in new ways, and become even more competitive".

Critics say the program has been hijacked by staffing companies that use the visas to recruit foreigners - often from India - who will work for less than Americans. Tech workers losing their jobs sometimes have sometimes been required to train their foreign replacements to qualify for severance packages.

"It's possible it may have a bully pulpit effect, but it's also possible that businesses might see this (executive order) as window dressing", said Spriggs, a Howard University economics professor who served as assistant secretary for policy in the Labor Department under President Barack Obama. It added that the executive order, however, is "another harbinger" of more aggressive oversight and enforcement of the H-1B visa programme. Studies authored by those across the political spectrum consistently demonstrate that H-1B workers and their economic contributions expand the economy, including the creation of desired jobs for the local USA -born American workforce.

However, Washington immigration attorney Dustin O'Quinn believes that would take congressional legislation, since the visa program is grounded in statute.

One bill, proposed by Sens.

The number of requests for H-1B visas declined this year by about 15 percent, or roughly 37,000 applications, but the total was still almost 200,000, far more than the 85,000 limit.

Other reports by VgToday

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