Trump’s ICE Promises Transparency on Huge OPT Visa Program in 2021

H1-B Visa Workers

The Department of Homeland Security is promising to issue a detailed report about the roughly 500,000 white-collar jobs that are transferred from American graduates to foreigners via the huge university-backed Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which is often described as the younger version of the H-1B program.

The agency “is currently unable to evaluate the impact OPT has had on U.S. workers and foreign students who have obtained work authorization through the programs,” said a January 13 message from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program within the  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency.

“To remedy this, SEVP is announcing the development of a new unit — the OPT Employment Compliance Unit — that will be dedicated full-time to compliance matters involving wage, hours, and compensation … the first report will be published on by July 31, 2021,” said the statement. It continued:

For example, if the unit were to detect evidence that an employer is using OPT in a discriminatory manner (e.g., as a means to hire only foreign nationals, or only individuals of certain nationalities to the exclusion of others), or in a manner that negatively impacts wages, this unit may notify DOL and the U.S. Department of Justice of such evidence, where HSI is unable to address such matters, so that the evidence can be investigated further.

The loss of employment many U.S. workers have faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic as employers lay off significant portions of their workforce (while still, in some cases, seeking to hire more foreign workers), makes this work particularly timely.

“We need the transparency to evaluate the program,” said Kevin Lynn, the founder of U.S. Tech Workers. “This is an important first step … This program can’t be a black hole.”

However, it is not clear if officials appointed by President-elect Joe Biden will continue the limited transparency delivered by President Donald Trump’s deputies. For example, Trump’s deputies released much data about employers and universities in 2017, which exposed a variety of fraudulent employers.

But little is known about the low wages paid to OPT workers, or how many OPTs hold jobs in small companies that compete for Fortune 500 outsourcing contracts, or how many employers use the OPT program to exclude American professionals from starter jobs.

The program created by officials working for President George W. Bush and later expanded by officials working for President Barack Obama, with little or no public consultation.

The program is fiercely defended by investor groups — such as Mark Zuckerberg’s — and by universities. For example,  universities claim it brings them $40 billion in new revenues each year when foreign students enroll in American colleges to get the jobs needed by their colleges’ American graduates.

The OPT program and its companion work permit program, the Curricular Practical Training (CPS) program, provided roughly 536,000 work permits in 2019, according to the ICE statement.

The number of foreigners who “have authorizations to participate in either OPT, the OPT extension, or CPT as of 2019 is over 536,000 when combined,” it says.

The agency has also redesigned its website to make the job loss data easier to track. For example, the site shows the “Total number of SEVIS records with authorization to participate in CPT, OPT or STEM OPT in calendar year 2019,” at 506,806 work permits, said one page.

That is a huge number — roughly 800,000 Americans graduate from college with skilled technical degrees in 2020. That huge number floods the labor market, cuts wage offers, prevents Americans from asking for raises, and also allows managers to exclude Americans from career-boosting job opportunities. From 2016 to 2019, median wages for graduates declined by roughly two percent as woke progressives fought Trump’s wage-boosting immigration policies.

The work permit program gets minimal coverage from white-collar journalists at establishment media outlets, such as the Washington Post or the New York Times, despite the career damage it inflicts on the journalists’ white-collar readers.

A rose-tinted October 2020 article in the Washington Post sketched out one beneficiary of the OPT program, “Eva Nautiyal, 22, majored in computer science with a minor in creative writing at Illinois Wesleyan University.” The article continued:

Nautiyal is an IWU graduate — and she’s still living in Bloomington, which she never expected. Armed with a computer science degree, she never expected to be job hunting into September, either.

But that is mostly what her days consist of now. In the past three months alone, she’s applied to close to 200 jobs, scrolling through LinkedIn, reaching out to recruiters, trying to network with people at various tech companies. At the beginning of the summer, she started keeping a spreadsheet, color-coding every job she applied to. If the prospect still seemed hopeful, she’d mark it in yellow. If not, red.

“And literally everything was turning red,” she says. “It was so stressful that I stopped keeping track.”

The Washington Post article included no skepticism about the program, or any solidarity with Americans, saying, “Because Nautiyal’s major fell into the STEM categories, she has a two-year extension on OPT, meaning in an ideal world, she’ll be authorized to work here for three years. “

The ICE data shows that the OPT program is a major feeder into Fortune 500 jobs, where managers have a lot of freedom to hire within their own ethnic networks. For example, since 2003, Amazon has hired 12,173 people via the program, while Deloitte has hired 5,799 foreign graduates, and Apple has hired 2,667 people.

The OPT program is just one part of a huge pyramid of imported labor used by U.S. investors and the Fortune 500 to spike their stock values and corral their control over the technology sector.

The imported labor force exists because Congress allows companies to provide green cards to roughly 70,000 foreign workers each year. As a result, at least one million foreign graduates are competing in U.S. workplaces for those green cards or are waiting for promised green cards.

The base of the labor pyramid consists of the illegals and OPT workers who are paid little or nothing as they work outsourced sweatshop technical jobs in the hope of getting one of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued to companies each year. The H-1Bs are valuable because the H-1B workers can ask their CEOs to sponsor them for green cards.

This foreign labor force, dubbed the “Green Card Workforce,” is often preferred by executives because the dangled green cards ensure that the foreign workers will work long hours for lower wages. In addition, the workers have no legal protections in the workplace and have no professional authority to disagree with CEOs, who can also gain stock-market gains when Wall Street analysts welcome great use of visa workers.

Companies also use visa workers to crimp and slow domestic competition by minimizing the hiring of American graduates who may use their work experience to join or create rival companies. In the early 2000s, the federal government broke up an illegal “no-poaching” cartel by tech companies who were trying to prevent their American workers from changing jobs and so sharing their expertise with rival companies. This strategy is legal if the workforce consists of foreign workers who cannot change jobs without their managers’ permission.

Many U.S. and Indian employees tell Breitbart News that American graduates are excluded from many Fortune 500 jobs so that the jobs can be traded by hiring managers to foreign workers who want to win green cards.

In 2011, for example, a California-based health insurance company fired 40 Americans to hire a larger and more expensive workforce of H-1B workers, according to testimony from a company employee in a subsequent lawsuit. In 2020, Facebook was sued by the federal government for hiring policies that discriminate against American graduates.

This huge imported workforce ensures that executives rarely have to compete for American graduates by offering higher wages, even when profits are growing. A 2020 report by the Federal Reserve said median salaries for U.S. graduates fell by two percent from 2016 to 2019 as blue-collar salaries rose amid President Donald Trump’s border policies.

There is some evidence that the increasing use of visa workers is reducing U.S. technological capability, even as Chinese companies take the lead from investor-driven U.S. companies.

This growing use of this Green Card Workforce is ignored and misunderstood by the largely powerless white-collar reporters in the corporate media. Many media companies — such as the Washington Post — are owned by firms or investors who want to grow their Green Card Workforce.

Other white-collar reporters choose to view the visa workers via the lens of progressive immigration politics, or intersectional feminism, even though the foreign contract workers displace at least one million white-collar American graduates.


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