Pres. Trump signs order on high-skilled worker visas
Trump plans to sign an order in Wisconsin to tighten rules on technology companies bringing in highly skilled foreign workers.
The president, during a visit to the Snap-on tool company in Kenosha, Wisconsin, endorsed the so-called "Buy American and Hire American" order, which reaffirms his administration's commitment to supporting domestic jobs and products. But like many of his previous executive orders, the order will largely call on cabinet secretaries to fill in the details with reports and recommendations about what the administration can legally do.
Trump's executive action Tuesday orders federal agencies to revamp the H-1B visa program - to make it more hard for tech companies to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor.
A large chunk of H-1B visa applications have historically been submitted by Indian outsourcing companies that get the majority of their revenue from the United States, including Infosys, Tata Consultancy and Wipro. And it comes too late to have a direct effect on this year's visa season, which opened April 3.
The "Hire American" provision, meanwhile, will aim to crack down on "abuses" in federal guest worker programs, officials said.
The executive order, though, does not take direct action to fundamentally change either portion, instead initiating a series of reviews and assessments and calling on federal departments to begin proposing reforms to the programs. It will require agencies to consider whether foreign governments are using unfair trade practices when considering the lowest responsible bidder.
Trump's executive order appears to be a move in the right direction, fulfilling his pledge to rework the economy toward "made in US by American workers", but there are lingering concerns.
The officials said the changes could be administrative or legislative and could include higher fees for the visas, adjusting the wage scale for the program or other changes. "And we should end it".
Trump clinched victory in the state that hasn't voted for a Republican for president since 1984 in part by turning counties like Kenosha County - which happens to be home to his chief of staff Reince Priebus - his way.
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Trump announced the order and made remarks at a visit to the headquarters of Snap-On Inc, a tool maker in Wisconsin.
But critics say the program has been hijacked by staffing companies that use the visas to import foreigners - often from India - who will work for less than Americans.
In some cases, companies must make a good faith effort to hire a US worker before turning to an H-1B worker, but there are many exceptions to this requirement. Adding to the indignity: The U.S. workers are sometimes asked to train their replacements to qualify for severance packages.
The H-1B, a temporary visa for foreign workers to fill high-tech jobs in the US, has been targeted by both Democrats and Republicans for being unfair to American workers.
The White House sees the decree as a way to spur momentum towards a broader congressional reform of the H-1B scheme - whose outline remains unclear.
Both Democratic and Republican critics have argued that companies such as Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Southern California Edison Co (SCE_pe.A), a utility, have used the programme to terminate in-house IT employees and replace them with cheaper contractors.
Trump has traveled to promote his agenda less than his recent predecessors.
His promise of returning manufacturing jobs to the USA resonated with voters such as Chris Manoyan, 54, who joined the crowd of about a hundred Trump supporters gathered across the street from Snap-on while Trump was inside.
Snap-on makes hand and power tools, diagnostics software, information and management systems and shop equipment for use in agriculture, the military and aviation.
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Apr 19 2017