Five GOP Senators Sign Amicus Brief Asking Supreme Court to Review OPT Case

By David North on June 12, 2023

As my colleagues George Fishman and Julie Axelrod mention in their overview of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and four other GOP senators have signed an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to review a D.C. Circuit ruling upholding OPT, which allows some foreign grads of U.S. universities as much as three years of subsidized lawful work in the U.S. (The Center has also submitted its own amicus brief.)

According to Law360, the other four are Katie Boyd Britt (Ala.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Tom Cotton (Ark.), and Mike Lee (Utah). This is the first time I have typed Sen. Britt’s name; she succeeded long-time Sen. Richard Shelby earlier this year.

Dogged lawyer John Miano has pursued this case for 14 years now, routinely losing in the lower courts as he argues that the government cannot simply wave a magic wand and declare foreign grads are “students” and thus eligible for subsidized work. His most recent loss was in the D.C. Circuit Court.

As always, the reporting on this case never, never mentions the central fact that OPT employers do not have to pay the usual payroll taxes; in fact, both the employer and sometimes the worker get an 8 percent tax break. This is because they are excused from paying the usual deductions for the Social Security, Medicaid, and federal unemployment insurance programs — thus they prosper at the expense of the nation’s elderly, sick, and unemployed.

OPT allows all alien grads of U.S. colleges and universities one year of legal, subsidized employment despite the fact that Congress has made no laws to this effect. If the grad majored in the STEM fields, as most do, this is extended to three years.

Useful Error. The Law360 report refers to OPT as “an Obama-era program”. Given the politics of the quintet of senators objecting to OPT, it may be helpful if they all have this notion. The program was started in the Bush II administration and expanded during the Obama years.