Trump to use ex­ec­u­tive or­der to push ‘hire Amer­i­can’

Seeks to re­form dis­puted H-1B visa pro­gram

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY S.A. MILLER AND STEPHEN DINAN

Pres­i­dent Trump will sign an ex­ec­u­tive or­der Tues­day to be­gin over­haul­ing the coun­try’s guest work­ers pro­grams and fed­eral pro­cure­ment rules, as ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said he hopes to make strides on his push to buy and hire Amer­i­can.

Mr. Trump still won’t can­cel the H-1B visa pro­gram he com­plained about dur­ing the pres­i­dent cam­paign, but will call on fed­eral agen­cies to look at lesser steps de­signed to re­duce abuses that could let com­pa­nies hire for­eign­ers even when qual­i­fied Amer­i­cans are wait­ing.

The pres­i­dent will also or­der a gov­ern­men­twide re­view of con­tract­ing laws, and will re­duce or elim­i­nate the is­suance of waivers that al­low fed­eral agen­cies to skirt ex­ist­ing buy-Amer­i­can laws.

“The cul­ture im­me­di­ately changes across the agen­cies,” a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial said Mon­day, brief­ing re­porters ahead of the pres­i­dent’s an­nounce­ment Tues­day.

He’s ex­pected to sign the ex­ec­u­tive or­der at an event at the head­quar­ters of Snap-on tools in Kenosha, Wis­con­sin.

As a can­di­date, Mr. Trump made big prom­ises about pres­sur­ing gov­ern­ment and busi­nesses to look to the U.S. first for both hir­ing and pro­cure­ment.

Mr. Trump re­peated the buy-Amer­i­can, hire-Amer­i­can mantra in a speech at his in­au­gu­ra­tion and in his first ad­dress to a joint ses­sion of Congress.

“My ad­min­is­tra­tion will fol­low two sim­ple rules: buy Amer­i­can and hire Amer­i­can,” he told the joint ses­sion of Congress last month.

He’s had some suc­cesses, in­clud­ing en­tic­ing com­pa­nies to keep plants in the U.S. rather than ship pro­duc­tion to other coun­tries.

But he’s missed an im­por­tant dead­line to crack down on the H-1B visa pro­gram, which he blasted as a way for ma­jor U.S. com­pa­nies to hire cheaper for­eign work­ers — some­times even forc­ing Amer­i­cans to train their for­eign re­place­ments.

The lat­est round of H-1B visas was com­pleted Mon­day, with the agency an­nounc­ing it had com­pleted the lot­tery to dole out per­mits for 2018. Nearly 200,000 ap­pli­ca­tions were sub­mit­ted for just 85,000 slots.

The num­ber of ap­pli­ca­tions ac­tu­ally de­creased this year com­pared to the pre­vi­ous two go-rounds, when more than 230,000 ap­pli­ca­tions were sub­mit­ted each year.

Com­pa­nies and col­leges that rely on for­eign work­ers said the U.S. is too re­stric­tive, los­ing out on high-qual­ity for­eign tal­ent in a global mar­ket.

But ad­vo­cates for U.S. work­ers say Mr. Trump promised big changes, and said they’re dis­ap­pointed he hasn’t fol­lowed through.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials de­scrib­ing the pres­i­dent’s new plans Mon­day said they are ask­ing for more ideas, but some of those they’re al­ready look­ing at are boost­ing the fee for hir­ing a guest worker, in­sti­tut­ing more vig­or­ous en­force­ment to com­bat fraud and ad­just­ing the lot­tery to give pref­er­ence to for­eign work­ers with mas­ter’s de­grees.

Cur­rently just 20,000 of the 85,000 H-1B visas are set aside for those with mas­ter’s de­grees.

Mr. Trump’s wife, Me­la­nia, worked in the U.S. on an H-1B visa in the 1990s as a fash­ion model. She did not com­plete her col­lege de­gree, much less a mas­ter’s de­gree, but even­tu­ally earned her green card grant­ing per­ma­nent le­gal sta­tus as a model of “ex­tra­or­di­nary abil­ity.”

The se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial who briefed re­porters said Mr. Trump’s ex­ec­u­tive or­der was just the be­gin­ning of his ef­forts.

“This is a tran­si­tional step to get to a more merit-based im­mi­gra­tion sys­tem,” the of­fi­cial said. “When you are telling the agen­cies to sug­gest re­forms, you are cre­at­ing an en­tirely new struc­ture.”

Mean­while, the buy-Amer­i­can pro­vi­sions will in­clude an assess­ment of the ju­di­cious use of waivers and ex­e­cu­tions that al­low use of for­eign-made ma­te­ri­als, trade deals that ex­empt for­eign coun­tries from buy-Amer­i­can laws and mea­sures that specif­i­cally deal with for­eign-made steel.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Trump will use the power of the pen to sign an ex­ec­u­tive or­der Tues­day to over­haul the na­tion’s guest work­ers pro­grams and fed­eral pro­cure­ment rules.

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