United States President Donald Trump on Monday barred federal agencies from hiring foreign workers instead of American citizens or green card holders. The president signed an executive order that increases scrutiny of federal contractors’ use of H-1B visas to bring in temporary foreign labour for high-skilled jobs in the country.
This came over a month after the Trump administration on June 23 decided to suspend a number of work visas, including the H-1B visas, until the end of the year. The move will disproportionately hurt Indian citizens, who have received as much as 70% of H-1B visas over the past five years.
“It would be unfair for federal employers to replace perfectly qualified Americans with workers from other countries,” the White House said. “President Trump’s actions will help combat employers’ misuse of H-1B visas, which were never intended to replace qualified American workers with low-cost foreign labour.”
Trump said he favours a merit-based immigration system that brings in high-skilled people to the US and creates opportunities for Americans.
The action was prompted by the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority’s announcement that it will outsource 20% of its technology jobs to companies based in foreign countries. The White House said this could lead to more than 200 American tech workers to lose their jobs to foreign workers hired on temporary work visas. “Outsourcing hundreds of workers is especially detrimental in the middle of a pandemic, which has already cost millions of Americans their jobs,” it added.
The president also announced during a White House event that he was formally removing two members from the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority for seeking to outsource American jobs to foreign workers, Reuters reported. He added that that Jeff Lyash, the utility’s chief executive, was “ridiculously overpaid” and threatened to remove him.
“Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board,” Trump said. “If you betray American workers, then you will hear two simple words: You’re fired.”
Trump said he was removing its TVA chairperson James Thompson and Richard Howorth. He later nominated Charles W Cook, a telecommunications executive, to serve on the board.
US Tech workers, a nonprofit that opposes expansion of H1-B visas to skilled foreign workers, had urged Trump to fire Lyash after the TVA’s move in June to outsource more data and programming work.
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