Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar introduced a bill last week, the Fairness for High-Skilled Americans Act, which will amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to eliminate the Optional Practice Training Program. The “OPT” Program, administered by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is a guest worker program that was never authorized by Congress.
OPT was greatly expanded by the Obama Administration. It circumvents the H-1B cap by allowing over 100,000 aliens admitted as foreign students to work for up to three years in the United States after graduation, according to the congressmen.
The foreign workers are exempt from payroll taxes making them at least 10-15 percent cheaper than a comparable American worker.
“What country creates a program, but not a law, that rewards its businesses to fire citizen workers and replace them with foreign labor to pay the foreign labor less? The United States,” said Gosar in a press release. “The program is called OPT and it reflects a complete abandonment of our own workers.”
“At a time when American college graduates are struggling to find a job and many are saddled with student loans, our government should not be incentivizing foreign employees over Americans. This badly flawed government program should be eliminated,” said Gosar.
According to Rosemary Jenks, Director of Government Relations for NumbersUSA, the OPT Program “invented entirely through executive action, has become one of the largest guest worker programs in the United States. OPT openly undercuts American workers, particularly higher-skilled workers and recent college graduates, by giving employers an actual tax incentive to hire compliant, inexpensive foreign labor under the guise of “student training.”
“Landing that first job out of college will only become more difficult for young Americans as our universities formalize the role they play in crowding out opportunities once reserved for American graduates. For this reason, OPT must be eliminated. I praise the efforts of Congressman Paul Gosar in drafting the Fairness for High Skilled Americans Act and encourage his colleagues in both the House and Senate to join him in protecting opportunities for America’s STEM graduates,” stated Kevin Lynn, Founder of U.S. Techworkers.
Congressman Gosar first introduced the Fairness for High-Skilled Americans Act in the 116th Congress and has twice signed amicus briefs in support of American workers in their lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to eliminate OPT.