President Trump issued an executive order dated August 3, 2020, with the purpose of protecting US worker’s wages during an economy placed in turmoil due to the pandemic. The order purports to protect jobs for US citizens by prohibiting federal contractors from hiring temporary foreign labor such as the H-1B visa holder in order to avoid the displacement of US workers.  The order aims to require federal agencies to concentrate on hiring US citizens and permanent residents prior to allocating positions to H-1B visa holders.

The H-1B visa is reserved for specialized employment requiring at least a bachelor’s degree in a specialized field of study.  It has been the case that H-1B visa employees primarily in the technology field have been working at third-party worksites placed by corporations who have contracts with federal agencies.  Current statistics from 2019 indicate that the Department of Labor has approved over 2,000 H-1B visas for federal jobs at the minimum and out of that same year, almost 400,000 H-1B visa holders are mostly in the technology industry.

The order indicates that within 120 days of the order, each agency that enters into contracts shall “assess any negative impact of contractors’ and subcontractors’ temporary foreign labor hiring practices or offshoring practices on the economy” by submitting a report to Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) summarizing the results of the reviews required and the OMB shall recommend, if necessary, corrective actions and timelines for the same.

The order indicates further that the head of the agency must review the employment policies of the agency in connection with the Office to assess the agency’s compliance with Executive Order.  Further that within 45 days of the date of this order, that the Secretaries of Labor and Homeland Security shall implement policy or guidelines to protect United States workers from any adverse effects on wages and working conditions due to the hiring of H-1B visa workers.

The drive for this order arose out of the decision of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a federally-owned corporation that generates electricity and provides economic development in the southeastern United States to lay off workers in lieu of outsourcing 20% of technology jobs outside of the US.

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