Pres. Trump visits Kenosha for order signing

Janie Parker
April 20, 2017

US President Donald Trump, hammering his "America First" campaign theme, signed an executive order that he said would favour American companies for federal contracts and tighten the H-1B visa programme for foreign technical workers. Colleges fear that, as with his previous orders banning travel from some majority-Muslim nations, the president's latest move could deter foreign students from seeking to enroll on American campuses.

Is the USA high-skilled visa program, known as H-1B, an essential contributor to the innovation economy or a way for companies to replace American IT workers with immigrants at lower salaries?

Trump has signed the order focusing on the program prevalent with Indian technology professionals at the Kenosha, Wisconsin central command of tool maker Snap-on Inc 18 April.

Employers, including Walt Disney World and the University of California, San Francisco, have laid off tech employees and replaced them with H-1B visa holders.

The officials also said that 80 percent of the H1-B visa petitioners who enter the United States under the current visa programme are paid less than the median wage workers in their field.

The new order would direct USA agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the program. There are limits to reforms that can be implemented by an administrative order, and the executive order Trump signed after the speech only starts the reform process.

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"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", a second official said.

The "Hire American" part of the order aims to crack down on what the administration calls "abuses" of government guest-worker programs. This means the visas should not be granted to foreign workers who are simply willing to work for less than USA workers.

Indian workers receive more than 70% of all H-1B visas, which are initially valid for three years. They would also be asked to offer changes so that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid applicants. Right now H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery and that's wrong.

"Together, we're going to do everything in our power to make sure more products are stamped with those wonderful words: Made in United States of America", he said.

The H-1B visa program is widely used by technology companies but critics contend it's being abused at the expense of American labor.

Reforming the H-1B visa system was one of the major election promises of Trump. So if enforced improperly, it could cause supply problems in a US market in which up to 25 percent of steel was imported in the first quarter of this year. An administration official told reporters on Monday that 80% of the immigrants who enter the US on H-1B visas are paid less than the median wage in their fields.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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