President Donald Trump will meet with U.S. tech workers on Monday before signing an executive order to prioritize hiring Americans amid the country’s growing economic crisis.
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The coronavirus pandemic and resulting shutdown of businesses and workplaces led to widespread job losses and a peak unemployment rate of 14.7 percent in April — the highest since the Great Depression. The rate fell to 11.1 percent in June as many workplaces began to reopen. Since March, the president has made changes to immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processes seeking to create more job opportunities for Americans.
On April 22, Trump issued a 60-day order suspending the issuance of green cards for people currently outside the U.S. “In the administration of our Nation’s immigration system, we must be mindful of the impact of foreign workers on the United States labor market, particularly in an environment of high domestic unemployment and depressed demand for labor,” the announcement read.
Two months later, the White House issued a new mandate extending the green card suspensions and barring people outside the U.S. from obtaining certain classes of nonimmigrant visas, including H-1B visas for workers in specialty jobs, H-4s for their spouses, H-2Bs for temporary non-agricultural workers, J-1s for exchange visitors and L-1 visas for intracompany transfers.
This is not the first time the Trump administration has proposed limitations on foreign workers. In 2017, Trump issued a “Buy American and Hire American” order that promised to rigorously regulate the entry of new foreign workers.
But some immigration experts argue that the Trump administration’s actions are not likely to make it easier to replace foreign workers with U.S. workers, particularly in those jobs that require specialty skills in information technology, electronics manufacturing and other STEM industries.
An analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center determined that industries with a prevalence of green card applications do not match up with those hardest hit by the pandemic. Though the country’s economic crisis saw job losses in a range of industries, leisure and hospitality as well as the mining, gas and oil industries experienced the most significant downturn.