On April 18, President Donald Trump signed a “buy American, hire American” executive order, tailor-made for sloganeering and without any immediate legal effect. He ordered four cabinet departments to study things and recommend changes in the H-1B visa program for skilled workers.
Trump’s own business — Mar-a-Lago — doesn’t use high-skilled workers on H-1B visas. It uses low-skilled seasonal workers on H-2B visas. Just like his son Eric’s vineyard/winery business, which hires seasonal agricultural workers on H-2A visas. Daughter Ivanka’s clothing line doesn’t use immigrant workers, because the clothing is manufactured abroad. Oops – that might run afoul of the “buy American” part of the slogan — if anybody in the family really cared.
Trump signs order taking aim at controversial visa program (The Hill, 4/18/17)
“Trump’s power to change the H-1B program on his own, however, is limited.
“The order directs the departments of State, Justice, Labor and Homeland Security to propose changes to ensure that the visas “are awarded to the most-skilled or highest-paid” applicants. It also mandates those agencies propose rules to root out fraud and abuse in the broader worker visa system.”
Trump signs ‘Buy American, Hire American’ executive order, promising to fight for American workers (Washington Post, 4/18/17)
“Senior administration officials said the order is effectively an initiation of a review by these departments of how the current visa waiver programs are structured rather than an edict to take immediate, specific actions regarding the programs.”
“Buy American” provisions also may run afoul of free trade agreements, though the White House wants to conduct a full review before seeking adjustments to those trade agreements….
“The government issues 85,000 H-1B visas annually. In recent years, many of those visas have been snapped up by outsourcing firms that offer low-cost IT support to American corporations….
“Although H-1Bs are the main focus of the order, other guest worker programs could also come under scrutiny.
“The president himself has relied on guest workers with a different kind of visa — H-2B — to help staff his Mar-a-Lago resort, according to the Palm Beach Post. During the campaign Trump defended his use of foreign workers, saying it’s difficult to find Americans willing to accept seasonal employment.”
Trump targets visa program he says hurts American workers (AP/Star Tribune, 4/18/17)
“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.”
“But despite Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, his daughter’s name is on a clothing line manufactured overseas.
“Shipments of Ivanka-branded clothing headed for the U.S. included handbags; knitted dresses and pullovers; woven dresses and blouses; among other items, according to U.S. Customs data provided by the research firm Panjiva to NBC News. The 56 shipments made since Nov. 8 hailed from Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore.
“NBC News traced 53 of the 56 shipments to Chinese ports and three to Singapore.”
And in other immigration news
First protected ‘Dreamer’ deported under Trump (The Hill, 4/18/17)
“Juan Manuel Montes, who first arrived in the U.S. at age 9, is now in his native Mexico despite having active protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program…”
Deported DACA Recipient Sues Trump Administration for Unlawfully Withholding Information (National Immigration Law Center, 4/18/17)
“Juan Manuel Montes, 23, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California after U.S. immigration officials failed to provide any documentation to explain the legal basis for sending him to Mexico, even after his legal counsel contacted Border Patrol and requested the information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Montes worked in California’s agricultural fields to help support his family and had studied welding at his local community college before he was detained by Border Patrol in Calexico, Calif., and then was swiftly sent to Mexico, in February 2017….
“On the night of February 17, Montes was walking to a taxi station in Calexico, a border town, when a Border Patrol agent on a bicycle stopped him and asked for an identification. Montes had left his wallet in a friend’s car and did not have an identification on him.
“Border Patrol then took him to a local station, where they made him sign documents without allowing him to see an immigration judge, seek counsel, or obtain copies of the documents he signed. Within hours, in the middle of the night, Montes was physically removed to Mexicali, Mexico.”
“Many immigrants who are here illegally — like Lorenzo — are not in hiding. Hundreds of thousands of them report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on a regular basis. They’ve been allowed to stay because past administrations considered them a low priority for deportation.
“But with the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, that once-routine check-in has become a nerve-wracking experience. In recent weeks, some immigrants say they’ve been detained without warning at their ICE check-ins.”
Why are the feds searching more cell phones at the border? A new suit seeks answers. (Columbia Journalism Review, 3/29/17) The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed suit in March.
“The complaint, now before the federal trial court in Washington, DC, follows several FOIA requests that the institute submitted to DHS, to no avail. Those requests asked for documents containing information on “the search, detention, retention, or sharing” of personal electronic devices or data at the US border since 2012.”
This podcast spent years arguing that Border Patrol agents have been ignored. Then, Trump called. (Los Angeles Times, 4/18/17)
“In part, the show reflects the routine grievances of labor unions: Agents need better pay, more resources and training, and less unnecessary bureaucracy. But the “The Green Line” has also been based on the premise that agents for years have been held back from doing their jobs to find and remove immigrants in the country illegally.”
Opinion: Is the immigration court system broken? (Latino USA, 4/17/17)
“In 2015, the TRAC Immigration Project out of Syracuse University estimated that full resolution of cases in the backlog would take from 2 to 6 ½ years. Asylum applicants who are seeking U.S. protection from persecution in their home countries may wait five or more years simply for an interview to assess their claim.”