After a weekend of protests condemning President Donald Trump’s order barring refugees from the country, it appears immigrant work visas may be Trump’s next target.
Bloomberg reports the president has drafted an executive order to overhaul the visa program that allows Silicon Valley tech companies to hire thousands of skilled workers from overseas.
The order would force companies to try to hire Americans first, and to give priority in foreign recruiting to the highest-paid workers, according to a draft copy reviewed by Bloomberg. Visas for foreign workers should be granted “in a manner that protects the civil rights of American workers and current lawful residents, and that prioritizes the protection of American workers — our forgotten working people — and the jobs they hold,” the proposal reads.
The proposal comes as no surprise — some foreign Silicon Valley workers have feared an upset of the H-1B visa program.
But such a change could have a substantial impact on the region’s workforce. About two-thirds of computer and mathematical workers were born outside the U.S., according to the Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies. The Bay Area had about 27,000 H-1B visas approved in 2013, according to a Brookings Institution study.
Nevertheless, Trump is not alone in his concerns about the visa program. Two California lawmakers also want reform. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-San Diego, introduced a bill to raise the minimum salary covered by the visa from $60,000 to $100,000. And Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-San Jose, last week was planning a bill that also would push for higher salaries, and require companies that rely heavily on the visas to prove they recruited U.S. workers as well.
Photo: President Donald Trump signs an executive order to withdraw the U.S. from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact agreed to under the Obama administration, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)