Trump orders review of visa program for highly skilled workers

Donald Trump Paul Ryan

The order Trump signed at the Kenosha, Wisconsin, headquarters of tool maker Snap-on Inc. targets the H-1B visa program.

The administration has said large American technology companies have been using the program to hire large numbers of foreign workers, lowering wages for Americans. Trump also seeks changes in government procurement that would boost purchases of American products in federal contracts, with one aim being to help US steelmakers.

It directs federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B program that prevents the displacement of American workers.

One objective, said Trump aides, is to modify or replace the current lottery for H-1B visas with a merit-based system that would restrict the visas to highly skilled workers.

Meanwhile, Trump's visit to Kenosha brought hundreds of protestors, who gathered outside of Snap-on to demand that he releases his tax returns and criticised some of his policies, including a plan to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

The "Buy American" section of the order seeks to maximise the amount of American-made goods used in federally funded projects.

"We're going to defend our workers, protect our jobs, and finally put American first".

Hannity then turned to the issue of repealing Obamacare, to which Trump Jr. said his father will not let the law outright collapse because he cares about the American people and wants to fulfill his promises.

H-1B visas admit 65,000 workers and another 20,000 graduate student workers each year, mainly in the tech sector.

On the campaign trail, Trump called the H-1B program "very, very bad for workers" while acknowledging that he's used it to bring in foreign employees for his own businesses.

In yesterday's White House briefing, one of the unnamed agency executives called out three of these firms, saying, "The top recipients of the H-1B visa are companies like Tata, Infosys, Cognizant".

Senior US administration officials had earlier praised the executive order as a "historic step" that would help protect American manufacturers and American workers. "It's America first, you better believe it".

The number of applications for H-1B visas fell to 199,000 this year from 236,000 in 2016, according U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Trump's executive order is created to clamp down on guest worker visas and require agencies to buy more goods and services from USA companies and workers.

With attempts to overhaul healthcare and tax law so far failing to bear fruit in a Congress controlled by his fellow Republicans, Mr Trump has leaned heavily on executive orders to seek changes to the U.S. economy. Many Trump-branded products, like clothing, are made overseas. Some of the American workers were forced to train the foreign workers who replaced them.

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