Trump's 'Hire American' overhaul could damage pro-business agenda

Acting on his election promise to reform the H-1B visa system, US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order for tightening the programme.

"Any reforms proposed by the Trump administration as a result of this Executive Order should be based on facts and data, not innuendo and anecdote, and must ensure that our immigration system, including the H-1B programme, remain a viable tool for USA businesses seeking to build and maintain a globally-competitive workforce", Stock said.

Though the executive order would make no changes to the visa program, how it works is likely to be tweaked in the near future.

His order, entitled "Buy America, Hire American" is meant to target the controversial H-1B visa program where he asked several federal agencies to review and overhaul some of its components.

Trump's "buy American" stance was a key part of his campaign for the White House.

Trump said he hopes his new executive order puts a stop to this.

Two administration officials previewed the orders for reporters on condition of anonymity because they didn't represent the agencies most directly involved in the policies.

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

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

During the same event Trump also put his signature on an executive order that seeks to reduce the number of foreign workers who are hired under the H-1B visa program. "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. "Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing Americans workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job for sometimes less pay".

Companies that make heavy use of the H-1B program, such as Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. But said the problem is the visas are awarded in a random lottery. H-1B is a federal visa program allowing employers to hire workers from outside the United States for specialty occupations.

"In particular, they say there's a shortage of science, technology, engineering and math talent in the USA - especially with higher degrees like Masters and PhD.s". Under the current system, visas are awarded on a lottery basis, which critics say has led to exploitation by firms who use the program to hire lower paid employees.

Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, thinks the Indian firms will have to pay more - and hire more USA citizens - if they want to keep their American clients.

  • Leroy Wright