Triggered by controversial job outsourcing at the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the Trump administration took steps this week to protect Americans in the federal workforce.
An executive order signed by President Donald Trump targets use and abuse of H-1B (“skilled”) work visas by requiring federal agencies to prioritize hiring U.S. citizens and green card holders before contracting jobs to foreign workers. The order requires agencies to complete an internal audit to determine whether they are only hiring U.S. citizens and nationals to government jobs.
The TVA – which had announced it would replace more than 200 of its employees with workers hired through foreign-based staffing companies — exposed just how little the federal government has done to protect the American workforce.
“For more than 15 years, the secretary of labor has had the authority to initiate an investigation of abuse of H1-B program when he or she finds reasonable cause. That authority has never been used,” Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia said Monday.
H-1B visas, widely used in the tech sector, are the largest visa category covered by Trump’s order. At last report, the federal government had more than 2,000 H-1B workers on its payroll.
In the private sector, large Fortune 500 companies employ more than 1.3 million foreign contract workers, including at least 600,000 H-1B workers.
R.J. Hauman, FAIR’s director of government relations, applauded the administration’s action as a positive first step. “Instead of abstract GOP establishment concepts like ‘socialism sucks,’ maybe the Trump campaign will start pointing to steps taken to stop outsourcing and offshoring.”
David North, an analyst at the Center for Immigration Studies, agreed, saying, “The White House move is welcome, though it could have happened three and a half years ago.”