Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.

Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Miriam Valverde
By Miriam Valverde July 15, 2020

Trump promised immigration controls to prioritize American workers. He fulfilled his pledge, in part

President Donald Trump's administration has taken measures to prioritize the hiring of American workers, including suspending the entry of some immigrants who may "present risk to the U.S. labor market" during the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump in April signed a proclamation barring entry for people who did not have a valid immigrant visa in hand. The proclamation exempted health care professionals and researchers, investors, and some others. But in June, Trump extended the travel restriction and expanded the group of people prohibited entry to include H-1B visa applicants who want to come to the United States as temporary workers. Trump's proclamation is in effect till the end of 2020.

Trump's June proclamation said that under ordinary circumstances, temporary-worker programs can benefit the economy. But in an economy affected by the pandemic, the programs "pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers," he said.

In April 2017, Trump also signed an executive order, "Buy American and Hire American," directing his administration to suggest reforms to the H-1B visa program, which allows employers to temporarily hire foreign workers in specialty fields. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in April 2019 highlighted policy guidance it said was issued to combat H-1B abuse and to safeguard the integrity of other visa programs. The agency also created a public database on employers petitioning for H-1B workers.

Based on Trump's 2017 order, the Justice Department launched a program to investigate and hold accountable companies that "intentionally discriminate against U.S. workers due to a preference for temporary visa workers." In April 2020, the Justice Department said it had reached settlements with employers that discriminated in their use of the H-1B, H-2A, and H-2B visa programs. As of March, the Justice Department had entered into eight such settlements, the Justice Department said in a news release announcing a settlement with a Maryland construction firm.

In his campaign, Trump promised new "immigration controls" to boost wages and offer jobs to Americans first. As president, Trump has advocated for an end to the visa lottery program and for a greater share of immigrants to be allowed in based on merit, not for family reunification. But he hasn't succeeded in getting Congress to pass a law that would get rid of the visa lottery or that would overhaul the legal immigration system.

Though it's hard to quantify, it's likely that foreign workers are still being hired over Americans for many jobs. But through executive actions — including the temporary travel restriction — Trump to some extent fulfilled his promise. We rate this Compromise.

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.

Our Sources

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.
 

Our Sources

CNN, Transcript President Donald Trump speech to Congress, updated March 1, 2017

Congress.gov, S.354 - RAISE Act, introduced Feb. 13, 2017

Sen. Tom Cotton website, Cotton, Perdue Unveil the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, Feb. 7, 2017

PolitiFact, Arkansas senator says of 1 million green cards issued, few are employment-based, Feb. 14, 2017

Sean Spicer comments at White House press briefing, March 7, 2017

Cato Institute, Rebuttal of Senator Tom Cotton's Anti-Legal-Immigration Op-ed, Jan. 4, 2017

New York Times, Fix Immigration. It's What Voters Want., Dec. 28, 2016

Latest Fact-checks