Trump signs 'buy American, hire American' executive order for review of visa program to encourage hiring Americans

KENOSHA, Wis., April 18 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered federal agencies to look at tightening a temporary visa program used to bring high-skilled foreign workers to the United States, as he tries to carry out his campaign pledges to put "America First."

Trump signed an executive order on enforcing and reviewing the H-1B visa, popular in the technology industry, on a visit to the headquarters of Snap-On Inc, a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In the document, known to the White House as the "Buy American and Hire American" order,Trump also seeks changes in government procurement that would boost purchases of Americanproducts in federal contracts, with one aim being to help U.S. steelmakers.

Inside President Trump's first 70 days

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Inside President Trump's first 70 days

Donald Trump is sworn in as president of the United States on January 20, 2017, outlining his "America first" vision in his inaugural address.

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Four million people around the world, including 500,000 in Washington, DC, attend the Women's March on January 21, 2017.

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Kellyanne Conway coins the term "alternative facts" after the administration made false claims about the number of people who attended Trump's inauguration.

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Trump signs an executive order withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multilateral trade agreement.

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Trump orders the government to begin construction of the US-Mexico border wall and pulls federal funds from sanctuary cities.

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Trump signs his first immigration executive order, sparking nationwide protests.

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Trump nominates 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

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Republican donor Betsy DeVos is confirmed as education secretary with a historic tie-breaking vote cast by Mike Pence — one of the most contentious confirmations ever.

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Michael Flynn resigns as National Security Adviser amid uproar over his communications with Russian officials.

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Trump announces that "the time for trivial fights is behind us" in a his first address to Congress.

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During his address to Congress, Trump honors Carryn Owens, whose husband, US Navy SEAL Ryan Owens, was killed during a raid in Yemen in January. The US-led attack is estimated to have killed 30 civilians, including 17 women and children, and 14 Al-Qaeda fighters.

(Photo via REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau comes to Washington to announce the Canada-US Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.

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Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu visits White House and Trump says he "can live with either" a one-state or a two-state solution, backing away from historic US support for Palestinian state.

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Trump tweets that the media is "the enemy of the American people," a day after a wide-ranging press briefing during which he lambasted the press for reporting "fake news" about his administration.

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After weeks of mounting pressure, Trump publicly condemns anti-Semitism in response to attacks on Jewish people and institutions across the country.

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The Trump administration cracks down on undocumented immigrants, speeding up deportations.

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Trump announces $54 billion increase in defense spending.

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Kellyanne Conway provokes outrage after being photographed sitting casually with her feet on an Oval Office couch.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from investigations into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia after reports emerge that Sessions did not inform Congress of his meetings with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.

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Trump accuses Obama of secretly wiretapping his phones leading up to the 2016 election.

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Trump signs a revised travel ban, scaling back a few of the restrictions, in what Trump calls a "watered down version" of the original executive order. Two federal judges rule against the ban on March 15.

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Trump surprises a White House tour and poses with a young visitor in front of a portrait of Hillary Clinton

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US Attorney Preet Bharara says he was fired by the Trump administration after he refused to resign. Trump, as president-elect, had asked Bharara to stay on.

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Trump unveils his federal budget blueprint, proposing cuts to virtually every federal agency besides Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs, which would all receive boosts.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits the border of North and South Korea, announcing that the US may take pre-emptive action if the country continues expanding its nuclear weapons capability. In this photo, a North Korean soldier covertly photographs Tillerson from behind.

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Trump meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss NATO. Trump references reports that Merkel was spied on by Obama in 2013, joking he and Merkel "have something in common, perhaps."

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FBI Director James Comey confirms an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump's campaign's ties to Russian officials. Comey also tells Congress that he has no evidence to support Trump's claims that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.

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Trump meets with truckers and CEOs at the White House and sits in the front seat of a Mack Truck.

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In a major setback for Trump, House Republicans pull legislation that would have repealed and replaced Obamacare before it can go to a vote.

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Trump signs an executive order rolling back key Obama-era climate policies, including the Clean Power Plan.

(Photo via REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Ivanka Trump announces that she will be an official White House employee, taking on an unpaid position as an adviser to her father, after facing criticism from ethics experts for her previously unofficial role.

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Rep. Devin Nunes announces that he has information that Trump and his associates may have been "incidentally" surveilled by American intelligence agencies, information The New York Times reported was given to him by two White House officials. Nunes says he will continue to chair the committee investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, amid Democrats' protests.

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The moves show Trump once again using his power to issue executive orders to try to fulfill promises he made last year in his election campaign, in this case to reform U.S. immigration policies and encourage purchases of American products.

Senior officials gave few details on implementation of the order but Trump aides have expressed concern that most H-1B visas are awarded for lower-paid jobs at outsourcing firms, many based in India, which they say takes work away from Americans.

They seek a more merit-based way to give the visas to highly skilled workers.

"Right now, widespread abuse in our immigration system is allowing American workers of all backgrounds to be replaced by workers brought in from other countries," Trump said.

As he nears the 100-day benchmark of his presidency, Trump still has no major legislative achievements. With his attempts to overhaul healthcare and tax law not bearing fruit so far in a Congress controlled by his fellow Republicans, Trump has leaned heavily on executive orders to seek changes to the U.S. economy.

The venue for Trump's visit on Tuesday is a nod to his voter base in the manufacturing centers of the American heartland. Wisconsin unexpectedly voted for the Republican last year, partly due to his promises to bring back industrial jobs.

H-1B visas are intended for foreign nationals in occupations that generally require higher education, including science, engineering or computer programming. The government uses a lottery to award 65,000 visas every year and randomly distributes another 20,000 to graduate student workers.

Critics say the lottery benefits outsourcing firms that flood the system with mass applications for visas for lower-paid information technology workers.

"Right now H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery and that's wrong. Instead, they should be given to the most skilled and highest paid applicants and they should never, ever be used to replace Americans," Trump said.

(Writing by Alistair Bell; Additional reporting by Mica Rosenberg and Julia Ainsley in Washington, David Ingram and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, Sankalp Phartiyal in Mumbai and Manoj Kumar in New Delhi; Editing by Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker)

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