Trump 'Buy American' edict may have little impact on US steel

Myles Hoenig

It directs federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B program that prevents the displacement of American workers.

The executive order, signed before cheering crowds at a rally at Snap-On Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin, mandates that the government "fully monitor, uphold and enforce" laws requiring federal agencies to favor American-made goods and services.

American jobs need to be protected and this executive order seems like a good step.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) said that while the announcement reflected the administration's desire to move towards reforms to the H-1B programme, there would be no immediate changes or impact on H-1B visas.

"On paper, the order doesn't change the process much", she says.

USA lawmakers have already tabled more than half a dozen legislations in the Congress with specific proposals to reform and improve the H-1B visas systems. "I applaud President Trump for his efforts to spur job creation, economic growth, and American competitiveness by improving our country's high-skilled immigration programs", said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte. Other visa programs, like the H-2B seasonal worker visa that Trump himself uses to staff his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., will be largely unaffected.

The order comes as part of the President Trump's campaign to put "America First". These workers receive a non-immigrant visa that can last as long as six years.

The government allows 85,000 immigrants each year through the H-1B visa programme, which is reserved for foreign nationals in "specialty occupations" and is largely used by the technology industry.

"Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that's wrong".

Under the new order, the H-1B visa would no longer serve as a cheap way for companies to replace United States workers, the official added.

A majority of them work in the tech sector - some for US firms, others for Indian outsourcing companies such as Tata Consultancy Services and Infosys, who provide services for huge swathes of corporate America.

Tech companies contend the programme is used to recruit top talent, but some of the H-1B visas are also used for outsourcing firms.

What's more, the executive orders will also require federal agencies to review and minimise the use of waivers and exceptions in worldwide trade agreements. Also, he has recently reversed several populist promises, including standing up to China, which he contended was manipulating its currency and stealing American jobs, and eliminating the Export-Import Bank, which he billed as wasteful subsidy.

About 6% of the visas now go to the Labour Department's top skill level, while eight in 10 workers on the visa are paid less than the median wage for their fields, the White House said in a fact sheet distributed to reporters.

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