Today, on April 18, 2017, President Trump signed another executive order (EO), Buy American and Hire American. It directs to support domestic products and bring jobs back to the US.
We begin with the hire American part of the order. The EO defines “petition beneficiaries” as aliens petitioned for by employers to become nonimmigrant visa holders with temporary work authorization under the H-1B visa program. The workers and the United States workers shall include all the aliens defined under section 212 (n) (4) ((E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The executive branch is directed to rigorously enforce and administer laws governing entry of workers from abroad. It aims to create higher wages and increased employment rate for workers in the United States. Further, the heads of various agencies such Department of Labor and Homeland Security are directed to propose new rules and issue new guidance as soon as possible. Such rules can supersede and revise previous rules and guidance, to protect the interests of immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse. These agencies will also suggest reforms to ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid beneficiaries.
The Buy American laws refers to all statutes, regulations, rules that refer to purchase and acquisition of goods, products, or materials produced in the United States, including iron, steel and manufacturing goods. The policy of buy American promotes economic and national security and stimulates economic growth. It aims to create decent wages, strengthen middle class and support the American manufacturing and defense industrial bases. The heads of all the agencies are given 150 days from the date of this order to assess the monitoring, enforcement, implementation and compliance with the American Laws within their agencies. It is directed to develop and propose policies to maximize material used in the US including manufacturing products, its components, and other material such as steel and iron.
Hence, we can safely conclude that today’s EO discourages use of foreign labor and H-1B visa program. It aims to crack down on abuses in such programs. Although, the EO will not make immediate changes to the current immigration system in place, but has clear directions to the agencies to review the H-1B visa program so it returns to its original purpose of bringing highly skilled workers for more specialized and technical roles. USCIS already announced measures to detect visa fraud and abuse recently. We are likely to see more such directions and recommendations by various agencies in days to come.