Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
Culture | By Julio Duncan

Donald Trump Sign 'Buy American Hire American' Executive Order in Wisconsin Trip

Donald Trump Sign 'Buy American Hire American' Executive Order in Wisconsin Trip

The "buy American" part of the executive order directs agencies to conduct a top-to-bottom performance review of the use of waivers.

US President Donald Trump, hammering his "America First" campaign theme, signed an executive order that he said would favour American companies for federal contracts and tighten the H-1B visa programme for foreign technical workers.

Trump campaigned on populist promises to stand up to China, which he claimed was manipulating its currency and stealing American jobs, and to eliminate the Export-Import bank, which he billed as wasteful subsidy.

Senior officials gave few details on the implementation of the order, but Trump aides have expressed concern that most H-1B visas are awarded for lower-paid jobs at outsourcing firms, many based in India, which they say takes work away from Americans.

"Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery and that's wrong", he said.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Trump wanted to visit "a company that builds American-made tools with American workers".

The latest executive order comes at a time when the businessman-turned-politician is nearing his 100th day in office, looking to regain momentum on the domestic front after his flagship travel ban was blocked in court and his vaunted health reform foundered in Congress.

Mr Trump's wife Melania used an H-1B visa in her early days as a model in NY, says the BBC's Gary O'Donoghue in Washington. "They should never, ever be used to replace Americans".

H-1B visas are intended for foreign nationals in "specialty" occupations that generally require higher education, which according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) includes, but is not limited to, scientists, engineers or computer programmers.

The order signed by Trump also calls for a review of the H-1B visa program which allows companies to hire skilled foreign workers. "Nothing is being proposed that would impact or change the FY18 H-1B lottery that is now underway", Nasscom said in a statement.

The officials also said that 80 percent of the H1-B visa petitioners who enter the United States under the current visa programme are paid less than the median wage workers in their field. "Workers are often brought in well below market rates to replace American workers", the official said.

"It's very hard, either they're not qualified, and one of the big things, it's a seasonal job", Mr. Trump said.

The US has already moved on addressing this issue by announcing a new set of guidelines for those qualifying for H-1B visas.

The government uses a lottery system to grant 65,000 visas every year and randomly distributes an additional 20,000 to graduate students.

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