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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last month President Trump fired two Tennessee Valley Authority board members after the federally owned energy corporation replaced employees with foreign workers.

Why it matters: It was the latest example of big corporations — including AT&T, Disney and Southern California Edison — using H-1B visas for cheaper labor, and sometimes forcing Americans to first train their foreign replacements.

Conservative immigration advocates and others critical of the H-1B program say Trump has done too little to prevent this kind of abuse, despite explicit campaign promises in 2016. Record U.S. unemployment has exacerbated the concern.

  • "He hasn’t really taken any steps to make any of the real fixes" to the H-1B program, Economic Policy Institute's Daniel Costa said. "A lot of it has been somewhat symbolic."
  • Current and former administration officials told Axios they felt Trump was never serious about protecting American jobs from misuse of foreign worker programs, as evidenced by the administration’s failure to end such abuses.
  • “He talked a lot of talk,” they said.

There are few comprehensive studies on the scope of the phenomenon because contracts and outsourcing processes are typically kept quiet.

  • Conversations with workers and attorneys paint a picture of a fine-tuned process. U.S. workers are often assured their job will not change when they are "rebadged" to work for a contractor.
  • "The sad reality is you’ve just been terminated without your severance," one AT&T worker told Axios in December.

Go deeper

Column / Harder Line

Biden's climate plan tries to bring unions into clean energy

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Joe Biden’s latest climate change and clean energy plan mentions the word union more than it does the climate itself.

Why it matters: Wind and solar energy have grown immensely across America over the last decade, but associated union jobs have not. The Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee is trying to change that, which politicians and others say is key to tackling climate change.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."

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