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What does Trump's 'Buy American, Hire American' order actually do?
20 April 2017, 09:18 | Clarence Schmidt
US President Donald Trump, hammering his "America First" campaign theme, signedan executive order that he said would favour American companies for federal contracts and tighten the H-1B visa programme for foreign technical workers.
Trump signed the order called "Buy American, Hire American" during his Tuesday visit at an American company in the state of Wisconsin. Although this action provides impetus to federal agencies to propose changes to the US immigration system, the EO itself does not present an immediate impact to immigration programs.
President Donald Trump is planning to sign an executive order that seeks to make changes to a visa program that brings in high-skilled workers. It also proposes changes, such as awarding H-1B visas to guest workers with the best skills and highest potential wages, rather than through a random lottery as is done now.
Trump also wants to toughen up the requirement that American-made goods be used in certain federal construction projects or in highway projects that are paid for with federal grants.
"We're going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first", the USA president said. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump wanted to visit "a company that builds American-made tools with American workers".
H-1B visas admit 65,000 workers and another 20,000 graduate student workers each year, mainly in the tech sector.
The H-1B program is supposed to provide the flexibility for companies to hire highly skilled foreign employees who possess unique technical expertise.
Reforming the H-1B visa system was one of the major election promises of Trump.
The new order asks agencies to propose ideas to direct visas - which are now distributed by lottery - to the most skilled and highly paid applicants.
They believe that President Trump is serious about bringing back jobs to the US.
Employers seeking H-1B visas for 2018 submitted 199,000 applications this year, far exceeding the 85,000 available visas, which are now distributed by lottery, according to figures released Monday by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. As per several USA reports, a majority of the H-1B visas every year are grabbed by Indian IT professionals. "Measures to protect American workers will not be successful if they are applied selectively".
"They should never be used to replace Americans", the president said of the visas.
With the order, Trump is formally calling for the secretary of commerce and the USA trade representative to assess "the impacts of all US free trade agreements" as part of the new plan.
Like many of Trump's executive orders to date, the newest decree will have little practical impact, but sends a signal for the various government departments to come forward with ideas for reform.
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