President Biden Revokes “Buy American and Hire American”
On January 25, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order entitled “Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers” that contained a section specifically revoking President Trump’s “Buy American and Hire American” executive order.
The “Hire American” portion of President Trump’s executive order called on the Secretaries of State, Labor, and Homeland Security, as well as the Attorney General of the United States, to “propose new rules and issue new guidance to supersede or revise previous rules and guidance if appropriate, to protect the interests of United States workers in the administration of our immigration system, including through the prevention of fraud or abuse.” Specifically, the executive order targeted purported “abuse” of the H-1B program, and the agencies were directed to suggest ways to contravene congressional intent and award H-1B visas only to foreign nationals with the most experience or the highest salaries. This mandate led to the proposal, and ultimate implementation of multiple regulations that make it more difficult to sponsor H-1B workers.
While a shift to stricter enforcement during the Trump administration certainly had an impact on the time and cost of securing H-1B petition approvals, the Trump administration was not able to implement many of its policy goals. Implementation of many of their goals would have required legislation, and Congress and President Trump did not agree or cooperate on immigration legislation.
In addition to directing agencies to consider changes in the H-1B lottery system, President Trump’s executive order also called for rigorous enforcement of his administration’s own interpretation of U.S. immigration laws that was far stricter than any other modern administration. This trend continued throughout the Trump presidency as U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services and other agencies moved forward in implementation of unprecedented enforcement-driven policies.
Notable in President Biden’s executive order was the lack of any specific reference to immigration-related policy changes beyond the simple revocation of “Buy American and Hire American” and its corresponding immigration-related components outlined above. Without comment or intermingling of immigration matters, President Biden’s order directed the U.S. government to “procure goods, products, materials, and services from sources that will help American businesses compete in strategic industries and help America’s workers thrive.” While encouraging support for American workers, the President’s executive order shifts the government’s policy from an apparent anti-immigrant bias to a more inclusive, win-win approach.
Foster will continue to monitor developments in connection with the new administration’s immigration policies and will make future updates available on our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.