Trump targets visa program he says hurts American workers

Apr 21, 2017, 23:25

Trump's executive order directs federal agencies to crack down on fraud and abuse of the program and generate more reports on it, Repko says.

Trump will sign the so-called "Buy American, Hire American" executive order during a visit to Snap-On Tools in Kenosha, Wis.

"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.

Around 85,000 foreign workers are admitted to the USA each year under the current H-1B visa programme, with most coming to work in high-skill industries.

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"That core issue has not been addressed", said R. Chandrashekhar, president of India's software and services companies association Nasscom.

Employers from Walt Disney World to the University of California in San Francisco have laid off their tech employees and replaced them with H-1B visa holders.

But it falls way short of Mr Trump's campaign pledge to end the H-1B visa programme.

While Trump has long promised to reform the controversial visa scheme, the executive orders will come too late to have a direct effect on this year's visa season, which commenced on April 1.

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The administration's goal is to ensure such visas are given to the most qualified or highest-paid applicant, according to two senior officials. "It would be extremely detrimental to our industry if things like the H-1B visas were taken away". Since the H-1B visa category does not require the beneficiaries to be the most skilled or the highest paid workforce, it will take congressional intervention in the form of new legislation to change US immigration laws to carry out this request.

"Many of the changes to the H-1B programme contemplated by the administration would require legislative action or rule-making and would take time to go through the necessary processes", he said.

But the White House said the programme is undercutting American workers by bringing in cheaper labour and that some tech companies are using it to hire large numbers of workers and drive down wages. As per several USA reports, a majority of the H-1B visas every year is grabbed by Indian IT professionals. Also, he has recently reversed several populist promises, including standing up to China, which he contended was manipulating its currency and stealing American jobs, and eliminating the Export-Import Bank, which he billed as wasteful subsidy.

The order specifically asks the secretary to review waivers of these rules that exist in free-trade agreements.

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About 6% of the visas now go to the Labour Department's top skill level, while eight in 10 workers on the visa are paid less than the median wage for their fields, the White House said in a fact sheet distributed to reporters.

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