If we learned only one thing from the Islamic terror attack of 9-11 it should have been to maintain tighter control of our student visa program.
Unfortunately the sound bite mentality and culturally short attention span even extends to our homeland security.
Thirteen years later, and we’ve completely taken our eyes of the ball regarding the foreign student work program. Tens of thousands of foreign students are unaccounted for in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. Beyond taking jobs from U.S. citizens, the mismanagement of the program poses a serious security threat.
As reported by Iowa Watchdog, “The federal government does not know where tens of thousands, 48,642 to be exact, of foreign students in the OPT program are located, who they are working for, or what they are doing while in the United States,” according to Sen. Charles Grassley. The Senator requested the GAO investigation amid complaints of employers hiring foreign students and passing over American citizens.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents interviewed by GAO acknowledged that “foreign students approved for OPT present a risk for becoming overstays because they are allowed to work and remain in the United States for 12 to 31 months after graduation from school.” OPT regulations allow unlimited numbers of foreign students to work as “candidate H-1B workers,” directly competing with qualified Americans, according to the Immigration Reform Law Institute.
But even assuming not a single one out of 48,642 unaccounted foreign students poses a security threat, the OPT poses an economic one. David North, a policy analyst with the enforcement-oriented Center for Immigration Studies, said “there’s a major reason for worrying about U.S. employers getting a huge bonus for hiring (OPT students) over citizen or green card workers. There are no payroll taxes for up to 27 months with the OPT workers, on either the worker or the employer. It works out, over the full length of time at an average estimated salary, to a bonus of $10,000 per such hire. And all that money is taken away from the Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance trust funds.”
You just have to wonder, what is going on in the US federal government? It seems every time you turn around, we’re giving advantages to everyone other than Americans. This foreign student job program has to be put on hold until there is full accountability. At a time when millions of American citizens have simply given up looking for jobs, we should not be giving advantages to workers from abroad. I recommend contacting your Senators and Representatives and asking them where they stand on the Optional Practical Training program. I wonder how many even know what it is?