Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Donald Trump signs executive order targeting H-1B visa used by Indians

Donald Trump signs executive order targeting H-1B visa used by Indians

Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order that encourages government agencies to give priority to American companies when awarding contracts and ordered a review of waivers and exemptions that allow the use of foreign-made products.

Fulfilling a prominent campaign promise, today President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) detailing his administration's approach to applying domestic preference for U.S. products and United States labor in federal procurement and federally funded projects. "Workers are often brought in well below market rates to replace American workers", the official said.

"We're basically saying to these agencies, 'Tell us everything you think you can do, ' " a senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity as a matter of policy, told reporters ahead of Trump's signing.

Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a research group sponsored by several tech companies, predicted in January that a crackdown on H-1B visas would be counterproductive.

The president promised to bring forward a tax reform plan that would "make our industries more competitive and also to provide a level playing field for our workers".

"We are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first", Trump declared, standing in front of an American flag fashioned out of wrenches.

"As the process goes forward we believe that a more thoughtful and a more logical approach is desirable, keeping in view the impact on American businesses", Chandrashekhar said. "Does that make sense?" he asked during his 20-minute speech.

But the New York Times noted that Trump's announcement came at a jittery time for the White House, as he faces the 100th day of his presidency without much to show for it in the way of legislative accomplishment, after the defeat of his health care overhaul.

Trump said the order would "aggressively promote and use American-made goods and ensure that American labor is hired to do the job".

The order directs four department heads to suggest reforms to the visa program.

The president is targeting the H-1B visa programme, which the White House says undercuts United States workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper, foreign workers, driving down wages.

Tech companies have been bracing for Trump to make changes to the H-1B program. As per several USA reports, a majority of the H-1B visas every year are grabbed by Indian IT professionals. This year, the government received 199,000 H-1B applications in the first five days and then stopped accepting them.

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.

Trump's order seeks to ensure the visas go only to the most skilled workers.

"This does nothing", said Senator Charles Schumer of NY, the Democratic leader. But like many of his previous executive orders, the order will largely call on cabinet secretaries to fill in the details with reports and recommendations about what the administration can legally do. It's not going to fix the problem.

"We already know H-1B visa abuse hurts American workers. Simply reviewing the programme is too little, too late", Senator Dick Durbin said. That would create more jobs in places like Ireland, India (which is now the biggest recipient of H-1B visas), China, and countries in South America, where there are growing IT workforces. Many of those proposals, as per industry body Nasscom, are discriminatory and are targeted towards Indian IT companies.

Regarding immigration, the order doesn't address the administration's main criticisms of the H-1B program, such as exploitatively low pay and replacing the lottery system to guarantee recipients are the best candidates for the positions.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.

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