President Trump will sign a Buy American, Hire American executive order on Tuesday that will attempt to protect the American worker by enforcing immigration laws so that these workers can benefit from higher wages and greater employment as well as cutting out unfair trade practices.
The first part of the order—Buy American—is based on the twin pillars of maximizing “Made in America” content and minimizing waivers and exceptions of Buy American laws.
“Every agency and department of government will conduct a top to bottom assessment aimed squarely at cracking down on weak monitoring, enforcement and compliance efforts and at rooting out every single Buy American loophole,” said a senior administration official. “The secretary of Commerce will coordinate these agency efforts vetted by the president on how to properly close these loopholes. For the first time the Buy American bidding process will take into account the flagrant use unfair trade practices.”
The executive order requires that Wilbur Ross, the secretary of commerce, review the agency findings and compile a report with recommendations to give to the president within 220 days. This report will be used as a blueprint for guiding further executive and regulatory action as well as possibly guiding legislative proposals.
“This order also breaks additional new ground by taking a very hard look at how waivers of Buy American in our free trade agreements may be a poster child of unfair and non-reciprocal trade in the $4.4 trillion global procurement market,” the senior administration official said. “If it turns out America is a net loser because of those free trade agreement waivers, which apply to almost 60 countries, these waivers may be properly renegotiated.”
The second part of the executive order—Hire American—focuses on protecting the American worker by enforcing the immigration, visa, and guest worker program laws.
According to a senior administration official, Buy American and Hire American rules have been diluted over time, which has led to many lost job opportunities for American workers.
“The Hire American rules that govern many of our visa and guest worker policies have gone unenforced or been abused to the point of being rendered in some cases even inoperative,” the official said.
“This executive order will call for the strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the United States of labor from abroad for the stated purpose of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in the United States,” the official said. “The executive order will further call on Departments of Labor, Justice, Homeland Security and State to take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse, which should be understood as separate problems, in our immigration system in order to protect workers in the United States and their economic conditions.”
The order will also call on these departments to ensure that visas under the H-1B visa program are awarded to the most skilled, instead of how they are assigned now by a random lottery. If the current system is changed and reformed in this way, it will make it extremely difficult to replace American workers.
Critics of Buy American, Hire American policies say they drive up prices and costs, but the administration officials maintain that these policies lead to higher wages, an increase in jobs, a robust tax base, increased economic growth and at the same time promote a manufacturing and industrial base.