President Donald Trump has signed an executive order preventing federal agencies from hiring foreign workers via H-1B visas. In addition, Trump fired two federal executives for outsourcing US jobs and “betraying” Americans.

Trump’s order, signed on Monday, requires federal agencies to prioritize US citizens and Green Card holders before outsourcing labor to foreign workers – who can come to the US on H-1B visas. Use of these visas is common in the tech sector, and 180,000 of them were issued last year, according to State Department statistics.

Government agencies will now be required to conduct an internal audit to make sure “only United States citizens and nationals are appointed to the competitive service,” per a White House statement. 

Furthermore, Trump announced the firing of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) chairman James Thompson and another board member, after it emerged that the federally-owned utilities company plans on replacing more than 200 American tech workers with foreign contractors on H-1B visas. Trump also slammed TVA CEO Jeff Lyash for taking an annual salary of $8 million amid the outsourcing push.

“Let this serve as a warning to any federally-appointed board. If you betray American workers then you will hear two simple words: ‘You’re fired,’” Trump said, after signing the order, in a throwback to his ‘Apprentice’ catchphrase.

He said it

Though Trump does not have sole authority to fire Lyash, he promised to get “rid of him, in one form or another.”

Immediately after the ceremony, which was attended by a group of American tech workers who had been campaigning for H-1B visa restrictions, the TVA announced that it was looking “forward to working with the White House,” and supported the executive order. During the signing, Trump was informed that Lyash had called and indicated he would “reverse course” on hiring foreign workers, prompting cheers from the tech workers present.

“Now maybe he’ll take a major cut in salary,” Trump quipped.

Trump has long been known as an immigration hawk, and the struggle to build his long-promised Mexican border wall helped define the first two years of his presidency. However, his attention has been focused on legal immigration as of late, and in June the president suspended new temporary visas for foreign workers through to 2021.

The suspension, as well as Monday’s executive order, come as the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns wreak havoc on the US economy. Though down from an all-time high of 14.7 percent in April, the unemployment rate currently stands at just over 11 percent, a figure unseen since the Great Depression. 

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