Trump to Pump Life Back Into "Buy American" Initiatives

The Trump administration has so far only called for a review of the H-1B program without proposing any concrete changes. None responded to requests for comment.

While visiting a factory in Wisconsin a few hours ago, Trump signed the order, and slammed abusers of the visa system, accusing them of cheating Americans out of jobs.

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.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton consistently pointed to the manufacturing of Trump-branded products overseas as an example of the businessman's hypocrisy on the issue of promoting domestic industry. In fact, she got a greenlight on two trademarks for her company the same day she met with Chinese president Xi Jinping at Trump's Florida retreat.

The order is more administrative in nature than a clear policy change.

Indian workers receive more than 70% of all H-1B visas, which are initially valid for three years. The government procurement section did.

Snap-on Chairman and CEO Nick Pinchuk said Tuesday he was pleased with President Trump's "Buy American, Hire American" speech at the company's headquarters in Wisconsin.

Going to a more merit-based H-1B system could attract more people with advanced science and technology skills, Atkinson said in a statement.

This month USCIS received 199,000 H-1B visa petitions and as a result, the federal agency had to resort to a computerised draw of lots to decide the fate of successful applicant.

When asked by reporters what policy changes will take effect immediately after Trump signed the order, a senior administration official detailed how the president is really asking for self-assessments from a range of federal agencies. "It's too little, too late", said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, the No.2 Democrat in the Senate. "Finally, Congress should expand the number of H-1B visas offered while reforming the system to protect American workers", said Todd Schulte, the group's president. "Everyone in my administration will be expected to enforce every last Buy American provision on behalf of the American worker, and we are going to investigate every single trade deal that undermines these provisions", he said.

The executive order calls on the departments of Commerce, Labor, Homeland Security and State to more strictly police the visa program.

Lottery funds more than 65,000 H1-B applications each year with another 20,000 handed out to graduate student workers.

During his campaign, Trump said at one point that he supported high-skilled visas, then he said he opposed the program.

But a majority of the visas are awarded to outsourcing firms, sparking criticism by skeptics who say those firms use the visas to fill lower-level information technology jobs.

  • Larry Hoffman