On April 18, 2017, President Donald Trump signed a “Buy American and Hire American” executive order. The order sets the policy of the executive branch as, among other things, rigorously enforcing and administering laws governing entry into the United States of workers from abroad. The order also calls for new rules and guidance to “protect the interests of United States workers.”
Among other things, the order calls for the Secretaries of State, Labor, and Homeland Security, along with the Attorney General, to “propose new rules and issue new guidance, to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate,” to protect U.S. workers in the administration of the immigration system, “including through the prevention of fraud or abuse.”
The order also calls for reforms “to help ensure that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid petition beneficiaries.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released a policy memorandum changing guidance on the H-1B specialty occupation designation for computer programmers.
President Trump announced the executive order during a visit to Snap-On Tools in Wisconsin on April 18. He said, “The ‘Buy and Hire American’ order I’m about to sign will help protect workers and students like those of you in the audience today. 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. It’s America first, you better believe it.” He said the order declares that “Made in America content” will be maximized in all federal projects, and that U.S. trade agreements will be investigated accordingly. He said that “widespread abuse” in the U.S. immigration system “is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job for sometimes less pay. This will stop.” That includes, he said, “taking the first steps to set in motion a long-overdue reform of H-1B visas.” He said that H-1B visas are currently awarded in “a totally random lottery” but that instead “they should be given to the most-skilled and highest-paid applicants, and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans.” President Trump also said the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) “has been very, very bad for our country,” and that his administration was going to “make some very big changes” or “get rid of NAFTA for once and for all.”
The order is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/18/presidential-executive-order-buy-american-and-hire-american. A related press statement is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/18/president-trump-promotes-buy-american-and-hire-american. A White House “Background Briefing” on the executive order is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/04/17/background-briefing-buy-american-hire-american-executive-order. The USCIS memo on computer programmers is at https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/nativedocuments/PM-6002-0142-H-1BComputerRelatedPositionsRecission.pdf.