DHS Announces OPT Enforcement Moves, Opening 1,100 jobs for Citizens

By David North on October 21, 2020

The Department of Homeland Security has taken moves against 1,100 Optional Practical Training (OPT) workers — 99 percent of them alumni of U.S. colleges — who are holding U.S. jobs but are out of status and thus depriving 1,100 U.S. citizens and green card holders of employment. (The other 1 percent is still in school.)

Acting Deputy Secretary of DHS Ken Cuccinelli announced these actions at a press conference on October 21.

Cuccinelli said that in 700 cases the work permits for these workers were revoked; in another 400 cases, in which the work permits were about to expire, they will expire and not be renewed. In addition, some of the college officials involved, referred to as "designated school officials", will be removed from these posts where they (more or less) supervise the OPT workers, most of whom are working off campus.

The OPT program, as we have reported frequently (see here and here) not only makes it possible for alien grads of U.S. colleges and universities to work either one or three years after graduation while still on student visas, it gives their employers a substantial subsidy for hiring these aliens (rather than Americans) because the employer is excused from paying the normal 8.1 percent in payroll taxes. Thus, America's ailing and aged are paying these employers' subsidies because the payroll taxes fund our Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment insurance trust funds.

I missed the first few minutes of the press conference but in the last 90 percent of it I heard no mention of these subsidies, a subject rarely discussed either by the government or the media.

Although Cuccinelli was not specific about why these 1,100 actions were taken, I have the impression that DHS noticed that the workers were not (as they are supposed to be) working in fields related to their university training.

It is useful that DHS has taken these steps against a small percentage of the OPT workers who apparently are not in status, but it would make even more sense to eliminate the program completely, as it has no legislative basis and takes something like $2 billion a year out of the trust funds, while denying 200,000 or so American college grads jobs.