On Wisconsin Trip, Trump Signs Order That Targets High-Skilled Worker Visa Program | NECN
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's first year as president

On Wisconsin Trip, Trump Signs Order That Targets High-Skilled Worker Visa Program

The president signed the directive at Snap-on Inc. in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a state he narrowly carried in November on the strength of support from white, working class voters

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    President Donald Trump announces a new executive order at a stop in Kenosha, Wisconsin, promising the audience at Snap-on Inc. to "put America first." The new order, dubbed "Buy American, Hire American" targets the H-1B visa program. 

    (Published Tuesday, April 18, 2017)

    Turning back to the economic populism that helped drive his election campaign, President Donald Trump signed an order Tuesday he said should help American workers whose jobs are threatened by skilled immigrants.

    At the headquarters of hand and power tool manufacturer Snap-on Inc., Trump signed an order that that asks the government to propose new rules and changes that will stop what he called abuses in a visa program used by U.S. technology companies. Dubbed "Buy American and Hire American," the directive follows a series of recent Trump reversals on economic policies.

    "We are going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first," Trump declared, standing in front of an American flag fashioned out of wrenches.

    Much like some prior orders, however, Trump's executive action Tuesday essentially looks for detailed reports rather than making decisive changes. In this case, the reports are about granting visas for highly skilled foreign workers and ensuring that government purchasing programs buy American made goods as required by law.

    Trump Takes Undue Credit for Toyota's Investment Plan

    [NATL] Trump Takes Undue Credit for Toyota's Investment Plan

    President Donald Trump said Toyota's decision to invest over $1 billion in its Kentucky manufacturing plant would "not have been made if we didn't win the election." Toyota said the decision was made independently from election outcomes. 

    (Published Wednesday, April 12, 2017)

    Trump chose to sign the directive at Snap-on Inc., based in Wisconsin, a state he narrowly carried in November on the strength of support from white, working-class voters. Trump currently has only a 41 percent approval rating in the state.

    He campaigned last year on promises to overhaul U.S. trade and regulatory policy, but his executive orders on those issues reflect the administration bowing somewhat to the limits of presidential power. Also, he has recently reversed several populist promises, including standing up to China, which he contended was manipulating its currency and stealing American jobs, and eliminating the Export-Import Bank, which he billed as wasteful subsidy.

    But Trump returned to Tuesday to the economic tough talk of his campaign, saying: "We're going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA for once and for all," referring to the Clinton-era U.S. trade pact with Canada and Mexico.

    In his new directive, the president is targeting the H-1B visa program, which the White House says undercuts U.S. workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper, foreign workers and driving down wages. The tech industry has argued that the H-1B program is needed because it encourages students to stay in the U.S. after getting degrees in high-tech specialties — and because companies can't always find enough American workers with the skills they need.

    The new order would direct U.S. agencies to propose rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse in the program. They would also be asked to offer changes so that H-1B visas are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid applicants.

    The number of requests for H-1B visas declined this year by about 15 percent, or roughly 37,000 applications, but the total was still nearly 200,000, far more than the 85,000 limit.

    Senate Releases Health Care Bill

    [NATL] Senate Releases Health Care Bill

    U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell released the GOP's health care overhaul on Thursday. The 142-page proposal includes massive cuts to Medicaid, cuts in taxes for the wealthy and defunding of Planned Parenthood for at least one year. The Congressional Budget Office has not had a chance to score the Senate's bill yet. Under the House bill, the CBO found found that 23 million Americans would lose their   coverage by 2026.

    (Published 5 hours ago)

    Tuesday's order also seeks to strengthen requirements that American-made products be used in certain federal construction projects, as well as in various grant-funded transportation projects. The commerce secretary is to review how to close loopholes in existing rules and provide recommendations to the president within 220 days. The order also asks agencies to assess the use of waivers.

    The trip brought Trump to the congressional district of House Speaker Paul Ryan, but Ryan was out of the country on a congressional trip. The president was greeted by Gov. Scott Walker outside Snap-on's headquarters.

    During his remarks, Trump weighed in on another economic issue, promising to find a solution to a trade dispute with Canada that has left dairy farmers in Wisconsin and New York without a market they had for their product.

    Trump said Canada has been "very, very unfair" to dairy farmers and "we're going to start working on that."

    Canada has decided to impose import taxes on ultra-filtered milk, a protein liquid concentrate used to make cheese. It had been duty free but Canada changed course after milk producers there complained. About 70 dairy producers in both U.S. states are affected.

    As for the visa program, Democratic lawmakers and organizations ranging from the pro-business Chamber of Commerce to the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation say they welcome proposals to improve the visa program, though not always in line with Trump's ideas.

    Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., urged Trump to skip further study and support her bill to rebuild U.S. infrastructure with American iron and steel. The Chamber of Commerce added that it would be a "mistake to close the door on high-skilled workers" who can contribute to the growth and expansion of American businesses and make the U.S. more competitive around the world.

    Trump has long pledged to support American goods and workers, but his own business record is mixed. Many Trump-branded products, like clothing, are made overseas. His businesses have also hired foreign workers, including at his Palm Beach, Florida, club.

    Snap-on makes hand and power tools, diagnostics software, information and management systems and shop equipment for use in agriculture, the military and aviation. In addition to 11 factories in the U.S., financial disclosures show it has plants in China, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

    During his tour, Trump was shown metal boxes where cremated ashes are deposited. He called it "very depressing."

    Associated Press writers Paul Wiseman, Joshua Boak, Alicia Caldwell and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.