Houston, TX (Law Firm Newswire) June 2, 2017 - President Trump’s executive order titled “Buy American, Hire American” calls for changes to the Labor Condition Application (LCA) system. Those changes, if passed into law, would mean, that foreign workers would be paid the equivalent to U.S. workers.
“Although the premise for this executive order is a sound one, it remains to be seen if the free market system is able to handle it,” said Houston immigration attorney, Annie Banerjee. There is no direction in the order, suggesting only the brightest and best foreign workers would make equivalent salaries nor does it address the differences between highly paid, highly trained individuals, and those performing jobs that do not require much background or education to perform a job. It only suggests perhaps using the lottery system for awarding H-1B visas, giving preference to the highest-paying jobs.
The order outlines plans to tighten the regulations in relation to issuing visas for skilled foreign workers, waive exemptions and increase enforcement that has allowed foreign companies to bid on projects along with American competitors — rules that are laid out in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The order also seeks changes in government procurement practices to increase the purchase of American products for federal contracts.
The “Buy American, Hire American” order further instructs the departments of Labor, Justice, State and Homeland Security to crackdown on the alleged abuse and fraud in the U.S. immigration system and to protect American workers by making sure H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled or highest paid applicants. According to data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, applications for H-1B visas fell from 236,000 in 2016 to 199,000 in 2017.
Salary differentials are quite clear when examining the computer consulting business, a niche that typically reimburses its workers with salaries over $100,000. While jobs in the computer consulting business usually require frequent travel, many U.S.-based computer professionals prefer stationary employment. On the other hand, foreign nationals are not opposed to traveling for work. The growing computer industry requires large numbers of workers, but with the shortage of U.S.-based computer professionals to fill the gap, hiring foreign workers becomes a necessity.
“Working in the computer consulting business is a difficult high demand life,” added Banerjee “and the crackdown on hiring foreign nationals by tightening rules and regulations in relation to issuing visas for skilled foreign workers results in more outsourcing, thereby reducing our tax base.” Ultimately, the order may not benefit many Americans, especially the unemployed.
It is not clear how the “Buy American, Hire American” executive order will affect the discussions about the future of the NAFTA agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States. Some industry pundits suggest the order is more rhetoric than an indication of immediate action. There has not been much action on either front.
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