“Buy American, Hire American”

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday putting into place the “Buy American, Hire American” declaration from his campaign.

According to senior administration officials, the executive order promises to increase protections for select American-made goods, while also calling for a review of the H-1B visa program.

According to the United States Department of Labor, that visa program is in place to “help employers who cannot otherwise obtain needed business skills and abilities from the U.S. workforce by authorizing the temporary employment of qualified individuals who are not otherwise authorized to work in the United States.”

Many have said the administration is hoping to replace the visa program, which they contend employers have abused in order to hire foreign workers who will accept cheaper pay than Americans.

Senior administration officials who briefed reporters Monday advertised the executive order as a “historic step” which would help protect American workers and manufacturers, whom the administration believes have lost business to foreign companies due to a flawed H-1B program.

The executive order, while not taking direct action, introduces a series of reviews and evaluations, and calls for federal departments to begin proposing reforms to the programs.

The “Buy American” section of the order calls for strict preference for the purchase of US-made goods by the federal government, as well as the use of US-made iron and steel in projects upheld by federal funds, with the hopes of stimulating “economic growth,” creating “good jobs at decent wages,” strengthening “our middle class,” and supporting “the American manufacturing and defense industrial bases.”

On the “Hire American” side, the executive order implores federal agencies to more rigorously enforce H1-B visa laws and propose reforms to the program, with the hopes of preventing fraud and abuse. The order also seeks to ensure that visas are only awarded to the most-skilled applicants. Stricter requirements would decrease competition for jobs which could create higher wages and employment rates for workers in the United States.