Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde April 19, 2017

Trump signs 'Buy American and Hire American' executive order

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order he called "Buy American and Hire American," pledging it would favor American workers.

The April 18 executive order directs members of Trump's Cabinet to "suggest reforms" for the H-1B visa program so visas are given to "the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries."

The H-1B program allows employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty fields, most commonly the tech sector. Congress capped the annual number of H-1B visas at 65,000, but an additional 20,000 visas are available for individuals with a master's or more advanced degree from the United States.

"Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that's wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans," Trump said April 18, 2017, during a visit to a tool manufacturing company in Kenosha, Wis.

Trump's executive order instructs the attorney general and secretaries of State, Labor and Homeland Security to propose new rules and guidance and revise old ones "to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse."

In his speech in Wisconsin, Trump also said his order would direct government agencies to "strictly uphold" Buy American laws -- policies he said required the use of domestic goods and products for government projects, but have been "gutted" by waivers and exemptions.

His order requests several reports on current adherence to Buy American laws and recommendations on how to better implement them. It directs agencies to assess their compliance with Buy American laws, their use of waivers, and to develop policies to ensure the use of U.S.-made materials.

"This historic action declares that the policy of our government is to aggressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job," Trump said.

Trump's order is in line with his pledge to hire American workers first. Pending reforms to the visa program that lead to preferred hiring of Americans, we continue to rate this promise In the Works.

Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde March 30, 2017

Legislation introduced intended to raise American workers' wages by limiting legal immigration

President Donald Trump in his first speech to a joint session of Congress said he would protect American workers, not let them "be taken advantage of" any longer and "bring back millions of jobs."

To do that, the legal immigration system needs to become merit-based, Trump said.

"It's a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially," Trump said Feb. 28. "Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule … Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, we will have so many more benefits.  It will save countless dollars, raise workers' wages, and help struggling families — including immigrant families — enter the middle class."

Currently, the majority of immigrants arriving in the United States legally come to reunite with family members.

On Feb. 13, Republican senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia introduced legislation to cut legal immigration from about 1 million a year to about 638,000 in the bill's first year and to about half a million by its 10th year.

The Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act would help promote higher wages for Americans, the senators said.

"As immigrant labor has flooded the country, working-class wages have collapsed ... No doubt automation and globalization have also affected wages, but mass immigration accelerates these trends with surplus labor, which of course decreases wages," Cotton wrote in a New York Times op-ed December 2016, which prompted a lengthy rebuttal from the libertarian Cato Institute.

Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, on March 7 said the president was meeting with Cotton and Perdue to discuss merit-based immigration reforms, which Trump mentioned in his speech to Congress.

Pending legislative changes, wage increases and metrics showing Americans are hired first, we rate this promise In the Works.

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