Your comment is needed to help U.S. STEM workers and students

OCT 30
9:10 AM
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Flood the federal register with comments.

Stand up for U.S. STEM workers and American students seeking STEM careers.

“If the agency receives enough angry comments from the public, it could fold and pull the new regulation entirely.”

Ian Smith, Immigration Reform Law Institute

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed a rule to expand a program called Optional Practical Training (OPT), which gives employers financial incentives to hire foreign students over Americans.

Go here and click the “SUBMIT A FORMAL COMMENT” link.

Before the rule can go into effect, it must go through a public comment period. The Obama administration attempted to bypass the public process but a lawsuit on behalf of U.S. tech workers forced them to comply. Ian Smith explains why your comment is critical to stopping the rule:

“Because DHS must respond to each comment, they’ll have to fully explain themselves and fix many of the problems raised. And the longer it takes for them to respond, the more likely they’ll miss the court-appointed deadline.”

Submit your comment today.

Example comments and ideas for talking points are included below. The Federal Register offers a few Quick Tips on submitting a successful comment, the most important two are:

(1) There is no minimum or maximum length for an effective comment; and

(2) The comment process is not a vote – one well supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters.

Go here to submit your comment.

Everything below this line is available for you to quote, reference, borrow from, or paraphrase in the comment you submit.

A Freedom of Information Act request from the Center for Immigration Studies revealed two shocking takeaways about the OPT program that DHS proposes to expand:

  • OPT denied American workers more than 430,000 jobs during the years 2009-2013; and
  • OPT removed $4 billion from the Social Security and Medicare trust funds.

General Facts About The Optional Practical Training Program (OPT):

  • The original purpose of Optional Practical Training was to give foreign students extra tools to help their home countries when they returned but today it is more often used by foreign students as a bridge to stay in the U.S., and by employers to get around the H-1B cap. DHS’ proposed rule runs counter to the original purpose of the OPT program.
  • There are approximately 568,000 F-1 students in the U.S. in addition to 98,000 in 12-month OPT programs and 30,000 in 29-month OPT programs. Giving employers incentive to hire from this giant pool of workers undermines the job opportunities for American STEM workers.
  • OPTs are sought after by employers because they tend to be younger (cheaper) than their American competitors. Employers save 7.65 percent when they hire foreign students instead of US workers because they don’t pay FICA or Medicare taxesunder the OPT program. OPT workers often hold jobs in the $60-$90,000 a year range, but they cost Social Security about $1 billion dollars a year.

Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa (in a letter to President Obama):

  • “By increasing the total amount of time a foreign student may work in OPT after each degree to 3 years – the same amount of time that an H-1B visa would be valid – there is little doubt that the Administration has administratively established a de facto shadow H-1B program, in violation of Congressional intent.”
  • the proposed regulations are “irresponsible and dangerous considering the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report issued in March 2014 finding that the program was full of inefficiencies, susceptible to fraud, and that the Department was not adequately overseeing it.”
  • “The report also found a major national security problem in that the Department does not know where tens of thousands of foreign students are living and working in the country. The GAO said that ‘ICE cannot fully ensure foreign students working under optional practical training are maintaining their legal status in the United States.'”
  • “After the GAO issued its report in 2014, I wrote to you and urged you to consider issuing a moratorium on OPT approvals until the program was secured and students could be located. I also asked that the Department swiftly move to implement the GAO’s recommendations. The Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Alejandro Mayorkas, responded on your behalf to my letter. He said the Department concurred with the recommendations and was working on them. I would like to know the status of each GAO recommendation, whether they have been fully implemented, and if not, why not.”
  • “OPT is meant to be a temporary training program, not as a bridge to a longer-term work visa or a way for employers to hire cheaper foreign labor in lieu of Americans.”

John Miano, attorney representing tech workers:

  • the proposed rule effectively “requires employers and universities to engage in unlawful immigration status discrimination.”
  • “The rule requires these organizations to set up mentoring programs for foreign graduates to work under OPT. However, there is no requirement that American graduates receive the same benefit.”

Professor Norm Matloff of UC Davis:

  • On a variety of measures, the former foreign students have talent lesser than, or equal to, their American peers.
  • Skilled-foreign-worker programs are causing an internal brain drain in the United States.

Professor Norm Matloff (cont.):

  • If the U.S. indeed “needs” the foreign students to remedy a STEM labor shortage, why do these students need training?
  • If workers with such training are indeed needed, why won’t these special mentoring programs be open to Americans?
  • OPT expands the pool of YOUNG workers….this is the core of how SCE, Disney and so on can legally save lots of money by hiring foreign workers

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