Although the order Trump signed during a trip to the headquarters of Snap-on Tools in Wisconsin doesn't change any of the country's existing hiring practices outright, it asks federal agencies to reexamine Obama-era rules and regulations in an effort to push companies to pursue a "Buy American, Hire American" approach.
"Both 'buy American' and 'hire American' rules have been enormously diluted over time, resulting in many lost job opportunities for American workers," one senior Trump aide told reporters Monday.
The order asks that agencies review the regulations surrounding H-1B visas, which about 85,000 foreign workers use each year to nab a job in the US. The administration wants to make sure companies aren't abusing the visa rules and hiring foreign workers willing to work for less money than workers here at home. It also asks that federal funds go toward America's steel and iron projects, and that the federal government buys up more US-made products, CNN reports.
Tech advocate groups like the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) say that aside from making it difficult to secure foreign talent, threatening the H-1B program could prompt many tech workers in Silicon Valley to leave the country.
"The effect would end up being exactly the opposite of what Trump wants," ITIF president Robert D. Atkinson told the Times. "Companies would go offshore, like Microsoft did with Vancouver, Canada."
The executive order gives agencies 220 days to review the country's existing policies surrounding foreign workers and trade and could potentially lead to the US renegotiating some of its trade deals with other countries. That being said, Trump is relying on his Cabinet heads to offer guidance on what the administration can legally do, rather than push actual legislation through Congress, something that he's already failed to do when its come to some of his other campaign promises.
Follow Drew Schwartz on Twitter.