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, 04-18-2017 at 08:29 AM (746 Views)
Update: April 21, 1:30 am.
For another view supporting my contention that Donald Trump's repeated verbal assaults on the H-1B program, followed by his April 18 executive order directing a further "study" of the program, which is highly popular with skilled and professional immigrants from India and China in particular, can only be fully understood in the context of his other executive actions against Hispanic and Muslim immigrants, see Michael Pearlberg in The Guardian, April 20:
Are Trump's H-1B visa reforms just a dog-whistle for his base?
Update: April 18, 5:16 pm.
As expected, Donald Trump has signed an executive order on April 18 which, according to late breaking news reports (as I have not yet seen the actual order itself), calls for inter-agency studies aimed at finding ways of changing the H-1B program to achieve Trump's stated objective of granting such visas to "only the most skilled and highly paid applicants".
If this goal is ever achieved, and if the H-1B program is limited only to foreign workers who are at the very top of an employer's salary scale, this means in effect that this visa may be available only to top executives in the future, not to highly skilled college graduates or professional workers who are at an earlier stage in their careers, and are not yet earning the huge salaries which Trump seems to be most attracted to.
To the contrary, it now appears from Trump's latest executive order and his accompanying remarks, which also blamed H-1B immigrants for taking away jobs from American workers, that predominantly Asian immigrants, especially the most talented and highly educated, are now the scapegoats for American job losses or low wages, just as Hispanic immigrants are for being made scapegoats for crime; and Muslim immigrants, even if they have no connection whatsoever with militant Islam or are trying to escape from the threat to their own safety by jihadist organizations, are scapegoats for the threat of terrorism in Donald Trump immigration paradigm.
Therefore, far from protecting the salaries and jobs of American workers, as is the stated goal of Trump's order, H-1B "reform" (if it ever happens, as governmental studies famously often lead nowhere), limiting H-1B visas to those who are at the very top of their organizational hierarchies, could turn out just to be another strategy to reduce the number of non-European immigrants in America, as some of Trump's top advisers, not to mention Trump himself, have indicated as their ultimate goal. See below.
An updated New York Times report on this latest executive order is available at
My original comment follows:
Just as Donald Trump infamously launched his presidential campaign by attacking Mexican immigrants as "criminals" and "rapists", his first immigration executive order sought to open the door to mass deportation of Mexican, other Latin-American, and mainly non-European immigrants in general.
Then, just as candidate Trump's next openly ethnic/religious attack on immigrants called for a worldwide ban on entry into the US by Muslims (including, initially, even US citizens, according to his spokesperson Hope Hicks, as reported at that time), Trump's next immigration executive order as president sought to begin making that promise reality by a drastic blanket ban on entry to the US by approximately 150 million citizens of seven almost 100 percent Muslim countries.
As we all now know, this ban caused immense hardship, suffering, disruption and chaos to thousands of Muslim visitors, students, temporary workers and even initially, permanent residents, not to mention their American citizen family members, employers, universities, research facilities and other US sponsors.
As everyone in America now also knows, this ban was somewhat scaled back by a second version only because of pressure from the federal courts, not because of any change of heart on the part of the Trump administration.
In fact, one of Trump's top advisors, Stephen Miller, stated that the second version of the Muslim entry ban was meant to accomplish the same policy objective as the first version - i.e. making Muslim visitors and immigrants unwelcome in the United States, just as Jews were unwelcome in the 1930's; and placing Muslim US citizens in a separate and unequal category as targets of suspicion and prejudice, again, just as Jewish immigrants and US citizens were in America for a large part of 19th and 20th century history.
Then, after his attacks on Latino and Muslim immigrants, candidate Trump's next target was H-1B skilled workers, a very large percentage of whom, as again everyone in America knows, come from India, China and other countries of South Asia and East Asia. Disregarding the fact that Trump has made extensive use of this visa in his own businesses, he promised to abolish this program entirely, castigating it as a source of "cheap labor" to "take jobs away" from American workers, just as Mexican immigrants were sources of "drugs and crime" and Muslim immigrants were all potential "terrorists" who are "filled with hate" toward America.
With this history, it should come as no surprise that Trump is now, according to both the New York Times and the Washington Post, planning to sign an executive order aimed against the H-1B program. See:
See also: Washington Post, April 17:
After a series of flip-flops, Trump prepares to deliver on a key campaign pledge
(Sorry, I do not have a link. Please go to Google to access this story.)
Unlike the previous two executive orders, where the executive branch can claim to have broad powers over both deportation and entry of foreign citizens into the US, it is not clear how much the president can actually accomplish on his own to make changes in the H-1B program without the consent of Congress.
According to the above reports, the main focus of any planned executive order will be, according to the Post:
"...to ensure that the H-1B visas are awarded to the most skilled and highest paid workers".
This could mean many different things, and there would not be any point in speculating further until there is a signed order, if any.
However, one thing is clear: whatever the content of the order may be, it is likely to be both broad and vague enough to cause confusion and chaos in the H-1B system, and to intimidate US employers from sponsoring skilled foreign workers, or such workers from applying for jobs in the United States, just as Trump's previous immigration executive orders have created so much confusion and fear in their respective areas.
That indeed, might be the main purpose of any H-1B executive order that the president may sign, and its principal, if not the only, result.
Roger Algase is a New York immigration lawyer and a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been helping skilled and professional workers obtain H-1B and other work visas and green cards for more than 35 years. Roger's email address is