August 31, 2020

Executive Order Limits Foreign Workers

Executive Order Limits Foreign Workers

On August 3rd, President Trump issued an Executive Order, Executive Order on Aligning Federal Contracting and Hiring Practices with Interests of American Workers, that orders Federal contractors to limit their use of foreign workers. The order is said to protect American jobs as the United States faces economic turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We believe jobs must be offered to American workers first,’ said President Trump.

“It is the policy of the executive branch to create opportunities for United States workers to compete for jobs, including jobs created through federal contracts,” the order stated. “These opportunities, particularly in regions where the federal government remains the largest employer, are especially critical during the economic dislocation caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus pandemic. When employers trade American jobs for temporary foreign labor, for example, it reduces opportunities for United States workers in a manner inconsistent with the role guest-worker programs are meant to play in the nation’s economy.” 

The order requires the heads of each agency and department to review the contracts they awarded in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019 to determine if contractors and/or subcontractors used temporary foreign labor and to what extent. The order specifically says to look for “any potential effects on national security” and/or “negative impact” of hiring temporary foreign labor or offshoring of labor on the economy. 

Some are skeptical of the Executive Order. “Other than requiring contracting agency reports in four months, it is unclear what the Executive Order will accomplish,” said Lawrence Lorber, who specializes in labor law at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, in an interview with Forbes. Vic Goel, the managing partner of Goel & Anderson, stated in the same interview, “On its face, the order will exert pressure on government agencies to review federal contractors’ employment of nonimmigrant workers and whether any services are being performed outside the U.S., but it also appears that the Trump Administration may be teeing up an effort to increase H-1B enforcement.”

The White House has also released a statement, declaring other than the pandemic, the decision to issue this order came after the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal corporation established in 1933 for flood management, electricity generation, and land management, said it plans to outsource 20% of its technology-related job, which “could cause more than 200 highly-skilled American tech workers in Tennessee to lose their jobs to low-wage, foreign workers hired on temporary work visas,” and “is also expected to cost the local economy tens of millions of dollars over the next 5 years.”

Read the Executive Order here.