President Trump signs executive order targeting foreign work visas

The president called on agencies to overhaul the H-1B visa program.

April 18, 2017, 3:59 PM

— -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday titled “Buy American, Hire American” while on a trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he called on federal agencies to overhaul the H-1B visa program.

The order addresses the Department of Labor, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security and State Department to “take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse” within the U.S. immigration system in order to "protect workers."

Speaking at the headquarters of Snap-on Tools in Kenosha, Trump singled out the H1-B visa program for "allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries to fill the same job for sometimes less money."

The order doesn't seem to change the status of existing visa waiver rules in the United States and instead orders departments to review and identify potential "abuses" of the visa waiver system.

The order aligns with President Trump's promise as a candidate to review visa programs to prioritize the goal of "Buy American, Hire American," even as the president's own company, the Trump Organization, has not always done so. The company has used existing visa waiver laws in order to fill positions with foreign workers in Trump properties such as Mar-a-Lago and Trump Winery.

"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," said Trump to the employees at Snap-on. The manufacturer of high-end tools and equipment employs approximately 11,500 people worldwide, according to its website.

"This historic action declares that the policy of our government is to progressively promote and use American-made goods and to ensure that American labor is hired to do the job," added Trump.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton consistently pointed to the manufacturing of Trump-branded products overseas as an example of the businessman's hypocrisy on the issue of promoting domestic industry. The president stuck to his stated position Tuesday, ensuring that the federal government would do "everything in [its] power to make sure more products are stamped with those wonderful words, 'Made in the USA.'"

"With this action, we're sending a powerful signal to the world and we're going to protect our jobs and finally put America first," said Trump.

The trip to Wisconsin marked Trump’s first visit to Speaker Paul Ryan’s home state and district since taking office. The president alluded numerous times during his remarks to Ryan, as well as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus -- a Kenosha native -- and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an early Trump supporter during last year's campaign.

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