Trump targets visa program for highly skilled workers

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Tuesday

President Donald Trump waves as he boards Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington Tuesday

U.S. President Donald Trump holds a baby upon his arrival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., April 18, 2017.

Donald Trump is set to sign another executive order this week, one aimed at over-hauling the H-1B visa program used by American tech companies to hire high-skilled foreign workers and bring them into the U.S. Trump has been critical of the program, claiming that it disadvantages American workers.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) - Using Tax Day as a backdrop, hundreds of people protesting President Donald Trump's visit to a Wisconsin manufacturing company urged him to release his returns, admonishing the president with signs, chants, and even an inflated chicken supposed to bear his resemblance. Along party lines, 48 percent of Democrats said they support Buy and Hire American practices, compared to 59 percent of independents and 79 percent of Republicans.

The order Trump signed at the Kenosha headquarters of tool maker Snap-on Inc. targets the H-1B visa program.

Trump snatched a slim victory over his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the northern state, which no Republican White House hopeful had won since 1984. The government uses a lottery to award 65,000 visas yearly and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers.

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H-1B visas are intended for foreign nationals in "speciality" 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. Tech workers losing their jobs sometimes have sometimes been required to train their foreign replacements to qualify for severance packages.

The new executive order, among other things, directs the Labor, Justice, Homeland Security, and State departments "to propose new rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse", according to a Business Insider article. "The reality of it is that employers are not required to recruit and try to hire USA workers before they hire an H-1B worker".

But the White House hopes, that signing the decree will build momentum before a possible legislative reform.

Trump has traveled to promote his agenda less than his recent predecessors.

The order, in part, takes aim at the H-1B visa program, which admits 85,000 immigrants each year mostly to work in high-tech jobs that companies say are hard to fill with Americans.

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Trump, who had cast himself as an "anti-establishment" candidate, reiterated his commitment to job creation and preservation in his Inauguration Address, contending that "for too long, a small group in our nation's capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost".

According to the senior administration official, these reforms were broadly supported by groups that represent American workers in the United States, and that a lot of the driving action historically for these kinds of guest-worker reforms have been from groups that in fact even tilt Democratic.

Trump made it clear that he doesn't agree with fact that H-1Bs are now doled out under a lottery system.

Critics say the program has been hijacked by staffing companies that use the visas to recruit foreigners - often from India - who will work for less than Americans. His businesses have also hired foreign workers, including at his Palm Beach, Florida, club. At one debate, he said: "It's very bad for our workers and it's unfair for our workers. And we should end it".

Employers from Walt Disney World to the University of California in San Francisco have laid off their tech employees and replaced them with H-1B visa holders. But he added, "It's not as aggressive as it needs to be".

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Snap-on makes hand and power tools, diagnostics software, information and management systems and shop equipment for use in agriculture, the military and aviation.

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