A group of foreign workers, Indians with recent college degrees in the federally subsidized Optional Practical Training program, was caught cheating some credit card companies in Kansas City – and this was reported fully in the Indian press. As much as $250,000 in fraud was charged.
But I could find no coverage in the Kansas City papers, the Indian media did not describe the workers as being in the OPT program, and, of course, no one mentioned the fact that the employers of the OPT workers get an 8 percent discount for hiring them rather than American college grads. The media always misses this subsidy.
It was just another day in the virtually secret OPT program, which often serves as a stepping stone to the longer-term H-1B program. OPT provides one to three years of subsidized employment to aliens who have recently graduated from American college and universities. The subsidy is in the form of non-payment of federal payroll taxes that support the Social Security, Medicare, and federal unemployment Insurance programs.
Mirchi9, the Indian publication, described the foreign workers variously as “fresh graduates residing in consultancies in Kansas City and other places” and as “particularly Telegu Students”, with both characterizations consistent with their participating in the OPT program. Telegu is a major language in southern India; the H-1B program, as we noted previously, is heavily biased in favor of young, male, Hindu workers from this part of India, all from the appropriate castes, with many southern Indians playing key roles in the hiring of this sub-population.
What the “students” (really alumni) did that caused the problem was to buy blocks of movie tickets, often seven at a time, charge them to their credit cards, watch the movies, and then the following day say that their cards had been fraudulently charged, seeking refunds. The refunds were ultimately charged to the B&B Theaters, an entity, according to the Indian press, that went to the Kansas City (Mo.) police. A similar pattern was also noted in the Atlanta area.
While reported in at least four Indian publications, there was nothing to be found in the local press, nor was the Kansas City Police Department able to locate any information on the case. Strange that a narrative so damaging to the Indian community could be found only in the Indian press.