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Trump signs H-1B visa executive order ‘Buy American and Hire American’

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The executive order was signed during Trump’s visit to the headquarters of Snap-On.

Donald Trump has finally signed the executive order that aims at putting an end to the abuse of the popular H-1B skilled-worker visa program. This work-visa category has been in contention after a few American firms were found misusing it by replacing skilled domestic workforce with low-skilled immigrant workers at a minimal wage.

The executive order Buy American and Hire American has directed the federal agencies to come up with new rules and issue guidance to overhaul the existing immigration system, to protect the jobs of American workers and to prevent fraud or misuse of the visa program.

The President has asked the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to draft the new H-1B rules as soon as practicable so that H-1B visas are awarded only to the most skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.

Trump’s latest executive order is aimed at creating jobs with higher wages for American workers and to protect their economic interest. The executive order will make the entry of foreign workers to the United States more rigorous, making sure that only workers with special skills get the benefit of the H-1B visa program.

The executive order also calls for creating good jobs with decent wages to promote US economy and national security, and to foster the economic growth. The executive order “Buy American and Hire American” asks the federal agencies to strengthen the US middle class, and support the American manufacturing and defense industries.

The order says, “It shall be the policy of the executive branch to maximize, consistent with law, through terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements, the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States.”

Trump’s new executive order also asks the federal agencies to cut the number of government waivers issued in favor of exceptions to “Buy American Laws.”

“It’s a well-known fact amongst those who study both procurement policy and our visa and guest worker policies that Buy American and Hire American rules have been enormously diluted over time.  And here we’ll walk through more details on Buy American, but the waivers and exemptions process in Buy American have been abused greatly, resulting in many lost job opportunities for American workers.  And similarly, the Hire American rules that govern many of our visa and guest worker policies have gone unenforced or have been abused to the point of rendered, in some cases, even inoperative,” said James S. Brady a senior White House official.

Answering a question on whether Trump will reduce the number of visas issued, or is it still going to stay at the 85,000, Brady  said, “Well, administratively, you can’t change the number of visas that are issued.  But in terms of when you’re telling the agencies and suggest reforms to accomplish awarding of visas to the most skilled and highest paid applicants, then as a practical matter, you’re creating an entirely new structure for awarding these visas.  I mean, it is a completely — it is a total transformation of the H1B program. ”

“And what immigration reforms take place after that, and the kinds of bigger changes you could see — as the President talked about in the State of the Union — to create a merit-based immigration system governing our entire immigration policy — I could foresee scenarios, which I won’t get into now, where you just have a whole different way of looking at immigration.  So this is a transitional step to get towards a more skills-based and merit-based immigration system,” he added.

The executive order was signed during Trump’s visit to the headquarters of Snap-On, a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The order falls in line with the promises made by Trump during his run up the election. The ‘America First’ campaign had focused highly on reforming the H-1B visa program and bringing back manufacturing jobs to America.

Full Text of Executive Order

Presidential Executive Order on Buy American and Hire American

EXECUTIVE ORDER
 
– – – – – – –
 
BUY AMERICAN AND HIRE AMERICAN

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and to ensure the faithful execution of the laws, it is hereby ordered as follows:
 
Section 1.  Definitions.  As used in this order:
 
(a)  “Buy American Laws” means all statutes, regulations, rules, and Executive Orders relating to Federal procurement or Federal grants    including those that refer to “Buy America” or “Buy American”    that require, or provide a preference for, the purchase or acquisition of goods, products, or materials produced in the United States, including iron, steel, and manufactured goods.
 
(b)  “Produced in the United States” means, for iron and steel products, that all manufacturing processes, from the initial melting stage through the application of coatings, occurred in the United States.
 
(c)  “Petition beneficiaries” means aliens petitioned for by employers to become nonimmigrant visa holders with temporary work authorization under the H-1B visa program.
 
(d)  “Waivers” means exemptions from or waivers of Buy American Laws, or the procedures and conditions used by an executive department or agency (agency) in granting exemptions from or waivers of Buy American Laws.
 
(e)  “Workers in the United States” and “United States workers” shall both be defined as provided at section 212(n)(4)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(n)(4)(E)).
 
Sec. 2.  Policy.  It shall be the policy of the executive branch to buy American and hire American.
 
(a)  Buy American Laws.  In order to promote economic and national security and to help stimulate economic growth, create good jobs at decent wages, strengthen our middle class, and support the American manufacturing and defense industrial bases, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to maximize, consistent with law, through terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements, the use of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States.
 
(b)  Hire American.  In order to create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States, and to protect their economic interests, it shall be the policy of the executive branch to rigorously enforce and administer the laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad, including section 212(a)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(5)).
 
Sec. 3.  Immediate Enforcement and Assessment of Domestic Preferences According to Buy American Laws.  (a)  Every agency shall scrupulously monitor, enforce, and comply with Buy American Laws, to the extent they apply, and minimize the use of waivers, consistent with applicable law.
 
(b)  Within 150 days of the date of this order, the heads of all agencies shall:

(i)    assess the monitoring of, enforcement of, implementation of, and compliance with Buy American Laws within their agencies;
 
(ii)   assess the use of waivers within their agencies by type and impact on domestic jobs and manufacturing; and
 
(iii)  develop and propose policies for their agencies to ensure that, to the extent permitted by law, Federal financial assistance awards and Federal procurements maximize the use of materials produced in the United States, including manufactured products; components of manufactured products; and materials such as steel, iron, aluminum, and cement.

(c)  Within 60 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Labor, the United States Trade Representative, and the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council, shall issue guidance to agencies about how to make the assessments and to develop the policies required by subsection (b) of this section.
 
(d)  Within 150 days of the date of this order, the heads of all agencies shall submit findings made pursuant to the assessments required by subsection (b) of this section to the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.
 
(e)  Within 150 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative shall assess the impacts of all United States free trade agreements and the World Trade Organization Agreement on Government Procurement on the operation of Buy American Laws, including their impacts on the implementation of domestic procurement preferences.
 
(f)  The Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the United States Trade Representative, shall submit to the President a report on Buy American that includes findings from subsections (b), (d), and (e) of this section.  This report shall be submitted within 220 days of the date of this order and shall include specific recommendations to strengthen implementation of Buy American Laws, including domestic procurement preference policies and programs.  Subsequent reports on implementation of Buy American Laws shall be submitted by each agency head annually to the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, on November 15, 2018, 2019, and 2020, and in subsequent years as directed by the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  The Secretary of Commerce shall submit to the President an annual report based on these submissions beginning January 15, 2019.
 
Sec. 4.  Judicious Use of Waivers.  (a)  To the extent permitted by law, public interest waivers from Buy American Laws should be construed to ensure the maximum utilization of goods, products, and materials produced in the United States.
 
(b)  To the extent permitted by law, determination of public interest waivers shall be made by the head of the agency with the authority over the Federal financial assistance award or Federal procurement under consideration.
 
(c)  To the extent permitted by law, before granting a public interest waiver, the relevant agency shall take appropriate account of whether a significant portion of the cost advantage of a foreign-sourced product is the result of the use of dumped steel, iron, or manufactured goods or the use of injuriously subsidized steel, iron, or manufactured goods, and it shall integrate any findings into its waiver determination as appropriate.
 
Sec. 5.  Ensuring the Integrity of the Immigration System in Order to “Hire American.”  (a)  In order to advance the policy outlined in section 2(b) of this order, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as soon as practicable, and consistent with applicable law, propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse.
 
(b)  In order to promote the proper functioning of the H-1B visa program, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall, as soon as practicable, suggest reforms to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.
 
Sec. 6.  General Provisions.  (a)  Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i)    the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof;
 
(ii)   the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals; or
 
(iii)  existing rights or obligations under international agreements.
 

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE,
April 18, 2017.