President Donald Trump brought a big dose of his economic populism to Wisconsin Tuesday, where he signed an executive order that would rein in a popular foreign worker program and encourage federal agencies to "buy American".
"The H-1B program was created to fill gaps in America's workforce with highly skilled foreign workers, but as we've seen in recent years, the program has been abused and exploited at the expense of American workers and most-qualified foreign workers", Iowa GOP Senator Chuck Grassley noted in a statement.
He campaigned a year ago on promises to overhaul US trade and regulatory policy, but his executive orders on those issues reflect the administration bowing somewhat to the limits of presidential power.
The "Buy American" portion of the order will tighten the waivers and exemptions that agencies use to get around procurement laws that favor American-made goods, and require agency heads to sign off on those waivers.
But the White House said the programme is undercutting American workers by bringing in cheaper labour and that some tech companies are using it to hire large numbers of workers and drive down wages.
The order targets the H1-B visa program, which allows USA companies to employ graduate level workers in specialty occupations like IT, engineering, mathematics and science.
Trump has travelled to promote his agenda less than his recent predecessors.
Trump says the order will help American workers whose jobs are threatened by skilled immigrants, which is what he promised to do on the campaign trail.
In the upcoming executive order, Trump is expected to have the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that issues the H-1B visa, to further review their conditions for awarding.
The order calls for reforms to the H-1B visa programme to ensure they "are awarded to the most skilled or highest-paid applicants", a White House official told reporters ahead of the move. The commerce secretary is to review how to close loopholes in existing rules and provide recommendations to the president.
The order specifically asks the secretary to review waivers of these rules in free-trade agreements.
The trip to Wisconsin marked Trump's first visit to Speaker Paul Ryan's home state and district since taking office.
They included a promise to pursue more investigations of fraud and abuses and a warning to employers applying for the visas not to discriminate against U.S. workers.
"We are finally standing up for our workers and our companies", Mr Trump said on Tuesday. "And we should end it".
The order he will sign on Tuesday will call for "the strict enforcement of all laws governing entry into the United States of labor from overseas for the stated goal of creating higher wages and higher employment rates for workers in the United States", one of the senior officials said. However, others say updating the definition of "skilled" labor under H-1B will ensure visas attract high-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers, Forbes reports. The staffing companies then sell their services to corporate clients.
It targets the H-1B visa program.. This means the visas should not be granted to foreign workers who are simply willing to work for less than USA workers.
Changing the H-1B visa system was one of the election promises of Trump. But he added, "It's not as aggressive as it needs to be".