MSNBC's Josh Barro Slams Trump's H-1B Executive Order: "All It Does Is Generate A Report"

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MSNBC contributor Josh Barro highlighted how President Donald Trump is gaming the news cycle by labeling new immigration guidance as an executive order even though all it does is direct "the commerce secretary to produce a report" with suggested changes to the H-1B visa program, which would still need congressional approval to be implemented. Barro continued that Trump "slap[ped] the executive order on it" so that it became "a news story" without actually changing immigration policies. According to an Associated Press report, the White House claims the H-1B program is abused by the tech industry and "undercuts American workers by bringing in large numbers of cheaper, foreign workers, driving down wages" while high tech companies argue that H-1Bs allow them to fill positions where "they can't always find enough American workers with the skills they need. While Barro and host Stephanie Ruhle noted that the many of Trump's executive orders "don't do anything," Fox News was spinning the order as fulfilling a campaign promise. On America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Byron York asserted that the order "shows Trump remembering why he was elected, which is to bring more jobs at higher wages to American workers." From the April 18 edition of MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle:

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STEPHANIE RUHLE (HOST): President Trump loves to talk about buying American, hiring American, though he doesn't necessarily do that. So what's he doing in Wisconsin? 

CHRIS JANSING: Well, that's exactly what they're calling this executive order: "Buy American, Hire American." Let's start with the second part. He's talking about the H-1B visa. Remember how critical he was on the campaign trail? These were designed to bring in highly skilled tech workers, mostly for high tech companies in the United States, 85,000 of them are given out every year. He said he was going to get rid of the program because critics say all it did was bring in people who were taking American jobs. Well, this doesn't do that, but it does require them to prove that they are bringing in only the most highly skilled workers. It does not affect other visas like H-2B, which would be seasonal workers, the kind that work at Mar-a-Lago estate down in Florida. The second part of that, the "buy American," will affect agencies. It directs them to give priority to American companies, to American goods when they're making their purchases. But it doesn't go into specifics like a lot of these executive orders, Stephanie. It leaves it up to the cabinet secretaries.

RUHLE: OK. So this executive order -- to Chris's point, like so many others -- sounds great, but it doesn't actually change anything. And though H-1Bs are for highly skilled workers, the sentiment is the same: President Trump's "buy American, hire American, manufacture here." At Mar-a-Lago, specifically, they're continuing to hire foreign workers. 

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JOSH BARRO: I hate calling these executive orders, because what this does is it directs the commerce secretary to produce a report about what they can do. The changes that Trump wants to make will require changes to laws. All this report says is find a better way to enforce what you're doing. It doesn't give them specifics, says -- in one case, send your report by Thanksgiving about what we can do on this. If the story was just Trump is asking his commerce secretary to figure out what we can do this, that wouldn't be a news story. They slap the executive order label on it, suddenly it becomes a news story because Donald Trump is doing something about employing Americans. But this order, all it does is generate a report. 

RUHLE: And these work, though. But these work in terms of the news cycle, in terms of a Trump-style rally when he goes to a place like Wisconsin and people are saying, yes, this is the president I voted for. But when does the rubber hit the road in terms of signing these executive orders that don't do anything? When you're one of those forgotten Americans who lost their job and President Trump said he was going to help you get that job back, how much time does he have to do that? Because these executive orders aren't going to do that.

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