Obama Plots Backdoor H-1B Increases

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By Joe Guzzardi

Joe is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow whose commentaries about California's social issues have run in newspapers throughout California and the country for nearly 30 years. Contact Joe at joeguzzardi@capsweb.org, or find him on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.

The writer's views are his own.

October 30, 2015

Callously insensitive to the displaced American workers at Disney, Southern California Edison and at many other large American corporations, such as Qualcomm and Microsoft, the Obama administration is working stealthily to create a large new guest worker program.

SoCal Edison Building
Obama, big business dodge Congress,
indirectly get H-1B visa increase.

Under the deceptively named and innocent sounding Optional Practical Training Program (OPT), employers will be able to exploit and underpay foreign-born students for up to three years. The result will be exactly what the Obama administration’s goal has been for his entire administration: lost American jobs and depressed wages for the few lucky enough to cling to the careers that they have.

Here’s how it works. Originally, the OPT program allowed overseas students to work in the United States for 12 months on their F-1 student visa. But in 2008, President George W. Bush's administration added a 17-month extension for foreign STEM students (science, technology, engineering and math), extra time that the Obama administration also endorsed when he took office.

Obama’s recently proposed OPT plan increases the 17-month STEM extension to 24 months which means that foreign-born students would be able to work in the U.S. for a total of 36 months. More than 100,000 foreign students have taken advantage of STEM extensions – that’s 100,000 jobs not available to Americans. The OPT STEM extensions are, in effect, a blatant, backdoor workaround the congressional process that officially blocked H-1B visa increases.

The Federal Register is accepting comments on Obama’s new policy. One foreign national wrote that he’s a computer science Ph.D. student, and said that if the OPT program is limited to one year with no extension, then foreign students will either be “lucky to get an H-1B or just go home.” But he added that with the proposed STEM extension, “I will have three years in total to evaluate my career….”

Please be sure to comment on the Federal Register here, and note that Americans’ jobs must be protected. Especially hurt are recent college graduates who have invested years and tens of thousands of dollars to earn STEM degrees and are jobless in a terrible economy, but must still pay off their massive student debts.

Comments expire on November 18 at 11:59 PM EST.

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