The Obama administration is preparing to make it easier for the technology industry to utilize cheap, foreign labor for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs rather than hire American graduates. Under the proposed rule, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will allow foreign STEM degree-holders to remain in the country and work on their student visas for up to 3 years after they graduate. The proposed rule involves extending the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program—a DHS creation to keep foreign “students” in the country—from 12 months after graduation to 36 months for those in the STEM field. Outrageously, DHS is trying to extend the STEM OPT even after a federal judge struck down the 2008 OPT extension for foreign STEM graduates from 12 months to 29 months. That case, WashTech v. DHS, which is still going through the court system, was brought by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI).
Even though the tech industry has spent $1.5 billion lobbying for greater access to foreign workers, you can still make your voice heard to protect American STEM workers. By law, DHS must accept public comments on the proposed regulation and respond to them before implementing the change. If there’s enough opposition, DHS might revoke the proposed rule and never implement it. The deadline for submitting comments is November 18. Make your voice heard, submit a comment today!
Key points to make in your comments to DHS:
- The proposed rule will destroy the job prospects of recent American STEM graduates.
- The proposed rule is an assault on American middle class workers.
- Expanding OPT eligibility to three years after graduation will increase the labor pool for American tech jobs by hundreds of thousands. That alone will adversely affect job opportunities and wages.
- OPT provides significant financial incentives for companies to bypass American workers.
- Because OPT workers are technically “students,” employers will not be required to pay payroll taxes for these employees. That would save companies about $10,000 a year for each of the three years they employ OPTs.
- OPT workers will not have the same rights as other workers to unionize, or to move to different employers.
- OPT expansion is a blatant attempt to make an end-run around limits on H-1B visas.
There is no shortage of qualified STEM workers in the U.S. If that were true, wages for such workers would be accelerating rapidly. They’re not; wages for STEM workers have been flat for years. The same cannot be said for revenues for big tech employers. Those have been growing rapidly in recent years.
Submitting a comment is easy! All you have to do is click here and paste any (or all) of the above points in the comment box along with anything else you want to add. Although you have to provide your name, your submission will remain anonymous unless you check the box “I want to provide my contact information.” You can also check out these helpful tips for submitting effective comments. Submit your comment now and protect American STEM workers.