In the State of the Union address, his call to improve â€œjobs and wages for Americansâ€ is an apparent reference to the visa program.
In his first-ever State of the Union address, President Donald Trump called for a merit-based immigration system, switching away from what he called â€œthis current system of lower-skilled immigration.â€
Citing the immigration policies of countries such as Canada and Australia, the president said those nations have â€œa merit-based immigration system,â€ whose â€œbasic principleâ€ is â€œthat those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.â€
Quoting the National Academy of Sciences, Trump said â€œour current immigration system costs American taxpayers many billions of dollars a yearâ€ â€” â€œstraining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.â€ Adopting â€œa merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits,â€ he said.
â€œIt will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families, including immigrant families enter the middle class,â€ he said. â€œAnd they will do it quickly, and they will be very, very happy indeed.â€
Clearly, Trumpâ€™s target here is reducing family-based immigration â€” which allows relatives of US citizens to immigrate to the country â€” as well as immigration through asylums and the Diversity Visa Program, also known as green card lottery.
Will Donald Trump clamp down on H-1B visas? (November 12, 2016)
Trump wants H-1B workers out, but foreign students on visas in (August 19, 2015)
Trump rails against H-1B visas in new immigration plan (August 17, 2015)
Interestingly, the president did not mention the H-1B visa program, which brings highly skilled workers to the United States. However, it is apparent that Trump was referring to H-1B when called for improving â€œjobs and wages for Americansâ€ in the context of immigration.
During the campaign, Trump had hit out against the H-1B visa program, saying that it depresses wages of American workers. After a primary debate on March 3, Trump said he would â€œend forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers first for every visa and immigration programâ€ without any exceptions.
Trump has also surrounded himself with some of the most vocal critics of the H-1B visa program, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House advisor Steve Bannon.