United States shrimp group toasts Trump's 'Buy American' executive order

Nick Mcbride
April 21, 2017

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump ordered a review of government procurement rules favoring American companies to see if they are actually benefiting, especially the USA steel industry. The order also calls for reforms of the H-1B visa program, making it harder for tech companies to replace America workers with cheap foreign labor.

"Nothing is being proposed that would impact or change the fiscal 2018 H-1B lottery that is now underway". The proposed changes are forward-looking and non-specific, " said the industry body National Association of Software and Services Companies in a statement.

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The H-1B visa program has its place - helping companies around the country, but particularly in Silicon Valley, fill jobs for which the supply of American workers is thin. Another directive of the new Executive Order requires relevant agencies to make sure that the controversial H-1B temporary visa are given only to the most skilled and highly paid immigrant workers.

There are four bills proposed in the U.S. related to H-1B reforms, six related to outsourcing and three that deal with immigration. Phil Fersht, CEO of research firm Horses for Sources, told The Economic Times the order is "very good news" for the IT industry.

During his campaign, Trump said at some points he supported high-skilled visas, then came out against them.

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The current H-1B programme, which is lottery-based, allows a maximum of 65,000 visas for the general category and a further 20,000 for people who have a United States master's degree from an accredited institution. The Chamber of Commerce added that it would be a "mistake to close the door on high-skilled workers" who can contribute to the growth and expansion of American businesses and make the US more competitive around the world.

"No one can compete with American workers when they're given a fair and level playing field, which has not happened for decades", he said.

"As with Trump's campaign promises, the executive order is full of loopholes that are created to protect Wall Street interests and multinational corporations-at the expense of American workers and communities".

The H-1B visa program allows USA employers to hire foreign specialty workers in technical and highly-skilled fields, like engineering, medicine, mathematics, and science.

As a result, Gibbs said investors should dial back expectations that Trump will do anything meaningful on trade, or on infrastructure which is where such an order could make a difference.

The number of applications coming in has gone down this year, Repko says, but is still higher than the 85,000 cap on how many visas are issued.

Other reports by VgToday

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